Comments Off on Social responsibility: what it is and how brands can get started

While your business is hard at work bringing in the dough, how would you like it to leave a lasting legacy as well?

That’s the potential power of corporate social responsibility—or the model of engaging in practices that make a positive impact on society and the environment.

While donating money is a common method of exercising corporate social responsibility, it isn’t the only way of making a difference. Read on to learn some reasons for developing a more socially responsible brand, and some strategies for doing so.

In the past, consumers may have prioritized shopping with brands that offered great value for money and convenience. But times are changing.

Now, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor in consumers’ minds when they decide which brand to spend their money with.

According to a study by multinational technology company IBM, over 72% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible.

This has two implications:

During a study conducted by global purpose practice Porter Nelli/Cone, 88% of Generation Z individuals surveyed shared that they care about social and environmental issues. In fact, 90% of them believe that companies must act to help with these issues.

In other words, if your brand conducts socially responsible practices, and is seen to be doing so, then you may gain more of such socially aware consumers as customers.

Given their younger ages, such customers also have potentially a longer runway with your brand.

This means that if you maintain your corporate social responsibility efforts, you just might be able to keep these customers shopping with you for years to come.

Brands with established corporate social responsibility programs can sometimes be seen with suspicion.

After all, it’s all too possible that you’ve taken up certain causes because you want to be seen as a “hero brand.” But behind the scenes, you’re actually in it for the money. You don’t genuinely care for the causes you say you support.

Well, let’s not be too discouraged by such cynical thinking. Chances are that you have some causes that you strongly care about—whether for the marginalized, the needy or even for the environment.

And as someone who owns a business, what’s stopping you from trying to make the world a better place by devoting your business’ resources and earnings to good causes?

Charities are hard at work making a difference to their chosen causes—but as non-profit organizations, they may need extra funds to keep their operations going.

So if you resonate with the efforts of certain charities, you can donate a portion of your revenue to help them continue with their work.

Last year, children’s entertainment franchise company The Pokémon Company International donated a total of $200,000 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Black Lives Matter.

“Here at The Pokémon Company International, we believe in friendship, inclusivity, and equity,” the company declared in a Twitter statement about the donation.

“These are values that anchor the Pokémon brand. There is no place for oppression within our community.”

The tweet was well-received by Pokémon fans, garnering over 250,000 likes and 60,000 retweets.

Apart from donating money to a charity, what about donating your time?

This can be an especially meaningful practice. Because while it’s easy to write a check, sometimes what a charity needs is not more money, but an extra pair of hands to help with their work.

Volunteering your time—and encouraging your employees to do so—can also help open your eyes to what’s happening on the ground, and help you make more informed decisions on how to maximize the effectiveness of your brand’s CSR program.

Since 2011, multinational technology company Apple has supported employees’ efforts to volunteer with and donate to organizations whose causes they care about.

For every hour that an employee volunteers with an organization, or for every dollar that an employee donates to one, Apple will make a monetary donation to that same organization.

Called Apple’s Giving program, this program has helped funnel almost $600 million in donations, including more than 1.6 million volunteer hours, to more than 34,000 organizations as of December 2020.

As the faces of your brand, your employees can be your greatest allies. Therefore, be sure to treat them as such.

This means giving all employees—even the ones at the lowest levels of your organization—decent, livable wages and benefits. All these may seem like an expense to your company, but they can go a long way in keeping your employees happy and turnover rates low.

For example, big-box retailer Costco is well-known for providing generous employee benefits.

It would pay its United States store workers at least $15 per hour, which is more than double the United States’ minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (In fact, Costco has recently raised its internal minimum wage to $16 per hour.)

What’s more, as the COVID-19 pandemic began rearing its head last March, the brand also paid its employees an extra $2 per hour to help them tide over potential financial difficulties.

Thanks to such generosity, Costco has been regularly recognized for its employment practices, such as being ranked 20th in Forbes’ 2020 list of World’s Best Employers.

Every March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated to highlight the achievements of women and call for greater gender equality in society.

So leading up to this day, it isn’t uncommon to see brands posting social media graphics that declare their commitment to a more gender-equal world.

Here’s one from insurance company AXA Mansard, for example:

Whether for International Women’s Day or for other seasonal events that raise awareness of social issues, you can also post similar graphics online to express your support.

Graphic design platforms such as PosterMyWall offer social media templates that make creating and sharing such graphics online easy, even if you aren’t well-versed in design.

For sure, most businesses are started with the aim of generating profits. But there is plenty of room for them to do good while they’re at it.

Contrary to popular belief, exercising corporate social responsibility need not be an unjustified strain on your business’ finances. In fact, doing so may just help boost your revenue as you gain a following from more socially aware consumers.

There are many ways for a brand to exercise corporate social responsibility too, from contributing donations to volunteering, and to expressing your stand on social issues. Even taking care to treat your employees well can make a big difference!

Pick your preferred methods of giving back to the community, and then start taking action to prove that you genuinely believe in the causes that you’ve aligned your brand with.

In these current times, how will your brand practice corporate social responsibility?

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