Many businesses now have some form of corporate social responsibility policy implemented. The importance of why a business should publish a CSR report is becoming more apparent every day, as concerns grow about the effects business practices have on our planet and society.
As part of having successful social responsibility initiatives, your business needs to frequently review its efforts. Ensuring your business’ policy effectively acknowledges and addresses issues in your community is important to remaining socially responsible.
Why improve your business CSR efforts?
Social responsibility spans a wide range of areas. The way in which businesses tackle these different responsibilities can either have a negative or positive effect on society and the business itself.
Considering the impact your business has on the world around it is important to your image. Stakeholders invest in businesses that they believe are making a difference in difficult subjects. For example, when we go shopping, many of us will part with a bit extra cash to know our eggs are free-range and ethically sourced.
Because buyers are now making more conscious decisions about what and who they are buying from, businesses need to ensure they uphold their consumers’ expectations.
A good example of how CSR influences brand reputation can be seen in Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’ campaign which gained 30 million views on Youtube by starting a conversation about gender expectations. By using their platform to bring to light a societal issue, Gillette increased their audience reach by sparking challenging conversation. Through actively being aware of the issues faced by their current (and future) customers, they improve their social responsibility.
A large part of improving CSR efforts lies in which areas your business can positively influence. Businesses should only try to improve areas which they have the reach, and not branch too far out into subjects that have little connection to the business. To help you identify where you could improve the corporate social responsibility of your company, consider the points below.
The first task in improving social responsibility is identifying the challenges your customers or community face. Consider who is buying your products or services and think about what day-to-day issues affect them.
Referring back to Gillette’s campaign, they identified the connotations attached with purchasing a razor. The act of shaving is considered a ‘manly’ activity and by diving further into what society considers ‘manly’ the business was able to open up a conversation, using their products as a discussion point.
To relate this to your own business, consider your average customer and build a persona. Some areas you may consider are:
- Personal Identity
Once you have an idea of the challenges your consumer community may face, you can work to tackle them.
An area of the job world that often appears in the media and online is the subject of equal opportunities.
Many large businesses have come under fire for their unethical practices, often regarding the treatment of those they employ. The practice of unequal pay for genders, discrimination in hiring, and unfair firing are all issues that global businesses have been criticised for. The reputational damage and dissatisfied staff caused through unequal treatment can have a huge impact on your business success.
Customers will not want to purchase from a business that treats their employees poorly, so be sure to have annual reviews with your staff to check their job satisfaction and bring to light any areas which could be improved.
Aside from improving the treatment of your current staff, how you hire new members to a team is important too. Offering opportunities to individuals who may have difficulty finding a job can be a great way to improve your CSR efforts. Not only does this require no additional cost to your business, but taking the extra effort to hire a disadvantaged individual can change a life, and improve brand reputation.
When trying to improve the social responsibility of your business, it’s crucial to think about other companies you may be supporting. In the same way, your customers are supporting your activities by purchasing from your business, you are supporting another business’ activities by purchasing from them.
Research the values of companies you may be purchasing from to keep your own business working. For example, you should always be aware of where the materials for the creation of your products are being sourced. If they are unethically generated, then you could be unknowingly supporting harmful practices.
The takeaway for improving CSR efforts
Corporate social responsibility is a chain of support. When you support a business with socially sustainable operations, you encourage other businesses to do the same. Support generates support, and customers want to invest their money into businesses they believe are making a difference.
The key to improving your business CSR efforts is through awareness and conversation. Speak to your staff and customers about the issues which concern them and see what difference your business can make. Remember, even small efforts can generate a big difference.