Seven-Step Guide to Up Your Corporate Social Responsibility Game

In the midst of the holiday season, many companies take the time to give back, strengthen employee bonds and connect with the community in a meaningful way. Corporate social responsibility should be a topic of conversation year round, but the holiday season is a great place to begin.

Corporate social responsibility speaks to a company’s reputation—the culture, employees and business model. The impact that CSR can have on a company’s reputation is huge. The engagement of employees, the company culture influence, job satisfaction, media coverage and much more are just a few things that CSR has an impact on.

So, here are 7 steps to think about when mapping out your organization’s CSR plan.

  1. Think about your stakeholders. If achieving happiness is not tantalizing enough for you to become more socially responsible, consider instead the stakeholders of your company. This generally includes you investors, channel partners, customers, employees, and community. How you operate affects the lives of each of these groups. The goals you set should consider these individuals.
  2. Create a mission. Most companies have a mission statement that provides the framework for how you will build your business. Every choice should lead you back to the original goals set. CSR is no different. Some companies choose to integrate their social goals into their business agenda, but it might also make sense for your business to have a separate “corporate social responsibility” mission/vision statement.
  3. Find out what is important.Profits are important. That is a major part of why you went into business. However, what else is important to you? Perhaps even more important, what is important to your customers? Tyson Foods has decided that world hunger is what drives their stakeholders (including their customers). For General Mills, the future of education drives them – a great move, since many cereal and food purchasers are parents.  Whatever it is, it needs to be something that you are honestly passionate about, or it will never stick.
  4. Look for opportunities. Once you have decided what is important to you and your audience, figure out the action plan. Often, writing a check is not the best way to support the causes you care about. Learn about the issue and ask current influencers what will make a real difference. Even a small startup with no available cash flow can be positively involved in community service. Some products are inherently socially responsible.
  5. Consider a partnership. Sometimes there is no need to start a CSR strategy from scratch. If your company and your passion match up with another organization’s goals, do not hesitate to work with them to bring your mission to life. If you can integrate your efforts with an established program, your time, money and social capital will go much further.
  6. Mean what you say. This is the information age. Every person with a computer or smartphone is a public critic of your company. Online reviewers, influencers and consumers can see right through an insincere campaign and your reputation will suffer for it. Back up your company’s corporate social responsibility mission with genuine passion, words and actions. If you do not take yourself seriously, neither will anyone else.
  7. First, be good. Then talk about it—in that order. If you are doing good things as a company, do not be afraid to talk about it, but only after your CSR ball is rolling. There is no reason that you cannot earn social capital for causes that you are contributing to as a company. In addition, talking about your part in a cause is good PR for your chosen cause, which is just another way to further your CSR plan.

The holidays are a great time of year to tap into your CSR. Look for ways to work together with an organization to give back to the community. Giving back and doing something, good for those that surround you can go a long way—it makes people feel good, gives a sense of purpose and increases positives attitudes towards your company.

About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.
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