Most businesses have a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy (CSR), but what exactly is it and why should customers care? The topic involves companies trying to play a responsible role in broader society and ensure that they give back. This can happen in different ways, from providing employment and training opportunities for local young people through to fundraising and initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
When successful, a good CSR strategy should ensure that the business thrives alongside its employees, customers and the communities that it serves. CSR is in fact so powerful that it can lead to an entire culture and strategy of sustainability – something that successful global brands such as Unilever (www.unilever.co.uk) and Microsoft (www.microsoft.co.uk) use to differentiate their brands and to ensure their long-term strategic direction. When delivered well, the CSR strategy allows businesses to develop stronger relationships with stakeholders at every level.
Sometimes CSR is known as corporate citizenship or even corporate conscience, helping to describe the efforts that a business will make in order to be better corporate citizens. From human rights through to ethical supplier sourcing and environmental projects, the scope to build a better business is huge.
By working in an ethical way, companies can also enjoy powerful business benefits. Customers are increasingly keen to choose brands which share their values and which have a positive impact in the world. Smart businesses that build sustainability and ethical decision-making into their recruitment, procurement, training and business development will naturally impress educated and savvy customers who have ready alternative choices in an increasingly digitised world.
When seen in this way, CSR is a sound business decision that can greatly improve marketing efforts by allowing brand clarity and differentiation. IKEA is one company that has pledged to vastly reduce its material waste and to invest in renewable energy projects on a grand scale. (www.IKEA.com)
What Does CSR Look Like in Practice?
Companies will choose their own strategies and focus on projects to drive forward their CSR and ethical business approach. For example, Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) is working to become entirely powered by renewable energy, and Apple (www.apple.com) has made huge strides in achieving this same aim. Many global businesses have also signed up to common environmental goals which exceed those set by governments and which encourage private enterprise to be bold in its vision to effect positive change.
Lush, the natural beauty product brand (uk.lush.com), commits to only using sustainably sourced, organic and ethical products in its product line, working with small-scale producers to help build sustainable businesses in developing countries. United Utilities (www.unitiedutilities.com) fundraises to help WaterAid and sends out skilled engineers to build wells in areas where fresh clean water is inaccessible. Timpsons (www.timpsons.co.uk) is a leading company when it comes to CSR, with initiatives that include employment schemes for former prisoners, free dry cleaning for low-income people attending interviews and a commitment to only working with ethical suppliers. Co-op has played a key role in championing Fair Trade products and supporting a wide range of charities, raising millions of pounds every year for key causes. (https://www.co-operative.coop)
If you want to take the first steps to a robust CSR strategy, harness your charitable giving and employee engagement – you can do this through the Fundraising Hub provided by Give as you Live. This is a free, bespoke platform which promotes the company’s charity partnership and engages employees. We strongly believe the better the engagement with employees and the charity the greater the involvement and subsequently the funds raised. We also know that some businesses do not have the time, money or workforce to put together such a platform, which is why we are offering this platform to businesses for free!
From one page employees will be able to learn more about the charity and the partnership, view a live total of what has been raised, make direct donations, raise funds through shopping with Give as you Live, and set up fundraising pages.
Want to find out more information or would like to see how such a Hub would look? Simply register your interests and our Account Manager, Ashleigh Green, will be in touch.