When considering today’s business and economic landscape, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a necessity. In the past, it may have been considered as something extra or a nice-to-have. As we progress into the future, CSR is becoming an integral aspect of business strategy and has in certain contexts become a need.
CSR programmes can take place in various forms. Businesses today have a duty where they are expected to take on leading roles to positively contribute towards people, societies, economies, the environment and planet. With that said, launching a CSR programme is not a straightforward exercise. Business executives may face several challenges including convincing owners or senior management, assigning responsibilities and finding the time to complete the related activities. We discuss with Simon Attard, Founder and CEO of MYC the benefits of CSR and why it should be given more weighting in the board room.
Research backs the relationship between CSR and employee engagement. Companies that invest in CSR typically find that their employees are first to jump at the opportunity to contribute towards good causes. Looking at this with a long-term view, business productivity also benefits. Engaged employees are typically more productive, contributing to improved business performance, profitability and lower absenteeism. In a productive environment, innovation tends to thrive. Employees become more engaged and enriched when they are volunteering for the benefit of the community.
CSR can improve financials
In instances where investments are made to promote the environment, companies may benefit from subsidies and other financial incentives. Although positive financial results may only be seen across a long stretch of time, this may still be perceived positively with senior management.
Whilst CSR, when done in the right way can promote the name and brand of a business, it is important to not lose sight of the primary objective, that of supporting both local and global communities.
Creates investment opportunities
Investors have become more socially conscious in the way that they conduct their affairs. Businesses that have proper CSR and ESG strategies in place are more likely to receive attention from such investors. Trends are now evolving to favour sustainability, which is closing into profitable returns. Businesspeople no longer believe that sustainability is solely a government responsibility, but accept that organisations have to play key roles to achieve successful outcomes.
Opportunities for media exposure
CSR brings about several opportunities for media coverage. This is especially beneficial if businesses have been keeping a low profile and remained quiet in terms of marketing. A CSR programme that allows a business to create a positive contribution and leads to good awareness translates to a win-win scenario. With that said, it is important to keep CSR activities authentic, without them appearing as desperate attempts to get press awareness. If CSR initiatives seem to be inconsistent with what the company stands for, they can be questioned and scrutinised. CSR activities that are deemed to be inauthentic can be classified as greenwashing.
Improves relationships with customers
Consistent with investor sentiment, customers also have become more conscious and tend to prefer socially responsible businesses. CSR contributes towards a reputation of trustworthiness which appeals to customers.
CSR creates employer branding opportunities
When done strategically, CSR can also benefit employer branding. Attracting and retaining talent has become one of the hardest challenges most businesses are facing. Research supports the hypothesis that young employees today consider CSR a significant factor when choosing an employer. Data compiled by LinkedIn shows that three quarters of candidates research the online reputation of a company before applying for a vacancy. In short, companies that showcase their good will become more attractive amongst both existing and prospective employees.
There are several opportunities today to tap into CSR. The numerous environmental and social issues which have never been as emphasised as today provide corporates with a lot of opportunities to contribute for the well-being of all. Businesses today may aid environmental causes by donating to NGOs and organising clean-ups with their employees. Another example includes donating to or helping out the less fortunate, especially in a time where more people have become vulnerable in view of the increase in cost of living. One CSR initiative could be directed towards promoting equality and inclusion amongst different races, genders and social classes.
Throughout this article we have illustrated the several benefits of solid CSR initiatives. Plans for CSR campaigns are highly influenced by business objectives and strategies which will determine their execution. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of launching CSR campaigns with authenticity and that are consistent with the company’s mission and vision. Doing so can enable more engagement and positive attention. If you would like to learn more about the development of successful CSR campaigns, send an email to Simon and the team on [email protected]