There’s been some debate as to whether or not corporate social responsibility (CSR) is really worth it for your business. While you cannot quantitatively measure “good feelings,” there are things you can measure the come from CSR like an increase in sales, engagement, and media relations (traditional or social). Whether you’re an entrepreneur just starting out or a well-established company , you should have a CSR strategy in place. CSR should be strategic, just like any other aspect of your marketing plan. When done correctly, social responsibility should be beneficial to both your business and the community you are serving. It’s been said that CSR is a great way to overcome a crisis or bad publicity, but it should be proactive, not something that is reactive. Philanthropic activities are only a small part of CSR, which should also include aspects like business sustainability and responsibility. CSR should address the concerns of all stakeholders, not just its shareholders.
When they hear the term CSR, a lot of people think about building schools in Africa or helping provide clean water to third world countries; while activities like this are very noble, they are not the only options. Perhaps you can’t afford to build a school in Africa just yet, but there are still plenty of CSR options available to you. CSR doesn’t have to be a big complicated thing, it can be as simple as raising awareness. For example, here at PilmerPR, CEO, John Pilmer’s rock band (yes, you read that right), Bright Messy World, plays free of charge at charity events to promote mental health and healing, a cause John has a personal interest in. He is also a member of the Utah Clean Air Task Force, an organization dedicated to finding ways to improve the air quality in Utah. These aren’t necessarily expensive undertakings, but through the gift of his time and talents John gives back to the community. In turn, those acts of service benefit our business through improving the air quality and overall quality of life in the area. The added exposure we occasionally get from these events is simply icing on the cake, not why John does what he does.
We’re proud to work with clients that are dedicated to their own corporate social responsibility and constantly strive to do more. Two of our clients have built CSR into the very foundation of their business model. SpotterRF uses radar technology to protect high value targets from outside threats as well as to help our military personnel stay safe. M-Vac systems, Inc uses a revolutionary DNA collection technology to help solve cold cases that have not been able to be solved any other way.
US Synthetic has made it one of their core business strategies to improve their community and the world around them. With their Engineering Good program they aim to: Improve lives for US Synthetic employees, improve lives in both the local and global communities, and promote science, technology, engineering and math in our local schools and communities. Their subsidiary, Suncrest Diamonds takes imperfect, perhaps unwanted stones and processes them to create high-grade colored diamonds for jewelry as opposed to buying controversial “blood diamonds”.
An example of a very large company that does a great job with CSR is The Walt Disney Company. One of their cool examples is their trains run on biodiesel made from cooking oil from their resort hotels.
Companies that have strong CSR strategies in place and care about their impact on the community, tend to spread that philosophy inward as well. If you are doing good, your employees can tell. They are happy to be part of an organization that is making an impact. Remember, CSR isn’t just about philanthropic enterprises, it is also about helping your business be more sustainable and responsible, that is what the public and customers like to see. People like to feel like their money is making a difference, and showing how your business lends itself to these purposes can help you gain more clients and increase your bottom line.
What are your thoughts on CSR? Is it something that should be emphasized or not? What does your company do as part of their CSR efforts?