I recently came across a study by the public relations and marketing firm Cone Communications and Echo Research which revealed that “corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now a reputational imperative, with more than 90 percent of shoppers worldwide likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality.
Additionally, more than 90 percent of the consumers surveyed are more likely to trust and be loyal to socially responsible businesses compared to companies that don’t show these traits.”
Considering these astounding statistics, what prevents more organizations from rolling out socially responsible strategies? Before answering the question I wish to define CSR –
What is strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR)? (penny I’m not sure if this needs to be a heading)
It is a business strategy that is integrated with core business objectives and is designed to create business value with positive social change and is part of the day to day operations of the organization.
I believe CSR is not happening in many small to medium organizations because
the problem lies with the companies themselves…their strategies follow old legacies and outdated approaches to value creation. They continue to view value creation as optimizing short-term financial performance and miss the most important customer needs – thereby ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success.
There are also multitudes of companies that partake in the depletion of natural resources vital to their businesses or ignore the economic distress of the communities in which they produce and sell.
Where are many fledgling CSR initiatives?
For the majority of companies involved with CSR their strategies are a mix of disconnected activities unlinked to their business goals and competencies. If you have a CSR strategy that is not focused on your business goals, you are leaving resources, opportunity and value on the table for your competitors.
Because the actual goals for most CSR efforts aren’t in support of typical corporate functions such as marketing, manufacturing or sales, many companies don’t know what goals to set for them or what strategies to pursue.
The result is often unfocused, unlinked, and unrelated strategies.
And whilst this is negative, a major opportunity exists for companies to determine their best route to market with social responsibility being a critical factor.
The way forward:
When leaders work with their people to craft a CSR strategy for their companies, they should at minimum do the following:
- First determine what objectives this strategy must support. To do this the top three business objectives and priorities should be analyzed and then develop a CSR strategy that will contribute to the achievement of those objectives.
- Secondly, a clear vision of CSR needs to be formulated from within and should reflect the company’s core values – This will create social value and business value.
- Thirdly the CSR strategies must be managed as a core business strategy as with for example their marketing, & capital expenditure strategies.
- Fourthly integrate your CSR message, with your core branding strategy to consumers, clearly and consistently.
Here is a case study of successful CSR:
“Tyson Foods offers another example of a major company tying its corporate social responsibility efforts to its core mission. Tyson has committed its brand to efforts to relieve and ultimately end childhood hunger, and in the past few years been integrating social media into its hunger relief efforts.
Tyson connected with the Social Media Club and began a string of extraordinarily smart and effective efforts to enlist the community. For example, it launched a campaign in Austin in which it agreed to donate 100 pounds of chicken to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas for every comment posted on its blog. They received 658 comments in two hours and loaded up two trucks filled with chicken for the hungry, Beth said. They repeated the success in Boston and San Francisco, launched a user-generated video contest in Minnesota and sponsored a day of service for its social media team.
• Tyson Hunger Relief Blog
• Tyson Hunger Relief: Our Commitment
• Tyson Hunger Relief blog post on outside Twitter accounts involved in hunger relief
• Tyson Hunger Relief on Twitter (Ed Nicholson)
• Tyson Foods Hunger Relief on Facebook
• Sustainability – It’s In Our Nature: Report on Tyson Foods’ economic, social and environmental efforts (PDF)
Your competitors are developing CSR strategies. Don’t let them get ahead of you, because you may not make it up. Consumers want to support the creation of a better world, as I pointed out at the start – “90 percent of shoppers worldwide are likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality.”
That’s extremely powerful – may today be the day that your company integrates CSR into the fabric of its operations.