Corporate social responsibility isn’t just a convenient public relations tool, it’s a vital component for succeeding in the modern business world.
From an observers’ standpoint, your company’s ability to practice social responsibility can be the difference between a potential client choosing you or choosing your competitor, and today’s consumers are highly tuned in to whether or not a business is a responsible co-citizen in the world. Additionally, effective corporate social responsibility can improve your operations, boost the morale of your people, and even help you to cut costs and stay competitive with your corporate peers.
From sustainability to community support and more, here are six ways to improve your company’s corporate social responsibility practices.
1. Practice Transparency
“The Information Age” is more than an academic moniker, it’s an accurate assessment of the state of today’s world. When any one person is capable of disseminating information about your company and its practices to the entire internet, there’s no hope that you can hide how your company operates for very long.
Instead of trying to obfuscate or divert attention from the way you do business, embrace your social responsibility and take the opposite route. By being aggressively and openly transparent, you can earn the trust that only comes by being completely honest about your organization’s practices. As well as encouraging your company to adopt best practices to begin with, that transparency sends a message to the world that you put a high value on your social responsibilities and are not afraid to say so.
2. Make Sustainable Purchasing Decisions
Sustainability is one of the most common areas that consumers and outside observers use to evaluate how responsible your company is. From fair trade coffee to recycled printer paper, spending just a few extra dollars to choose the most responsible product can have a huge impact on your company’s role as a steward of the world in which we live. While you may have to work to actively communicate to consumers and your business partners that you’ve made socially responsible choices, you can be sure that those same observers won’t wait for you to tell them directly if you’re doing the opposite and making irresponsible choices instead.
Improving corporate social responsibility means adopting a dual mindset — along with making decisions that have a global impact, you also need to focus on your immediate surroundings and actively seek to be engaged in your local community.
You should always look for opportunities to participate in community events, both to “do your part” and to make sure the community sees your company’s name at important local activities, allowing you to capitalize on the “soft marketing” and public relations benefits of being a responsible corporate citizen. For the best results, don’t leave local engagement as a side-show or occasional thought. Instead, directly assign at least one member of your team to actively plan out a few days of community service in every quarter and make sure your team understands its responsibility to support those efforts and participate in any events.
4. Support the Local Community
Beyond participating in community events and other engagements, it’s important to become a direct supporter of the local community’s business people and companies. Purchase from local suppliers whenever you can, especially if a large percentage of your business comes from the immediate area. Additionally, always look for opportunities to support local events, especially when they’re promoting local businesses.
5. Encourage Innovation
Actively work to create an environment that encourages your employees to come forward with ideas about how to improve your corporate social responsibility. By including their ideas and encouraging their active participation, you help to guarantee that social responsibility is a “daily driver” in your operations and not just a public relations selling point. In other words, responsibility becomes part of your performance culture.
6. Understand That CSR Comes From the Top
A company that operates with genuine corporate social responsibility doesn’t wait for its employees to provide the motivating energy for responsible practices and activities. You can’t expect your new hires to come up with a grand new plan for engaging in social responsibility, and nobody’s going to step outside the confines of their job role without encouragement.
Instead, it’s vital to remember that a mandate to be a responsible corporate citizen comes from the top. As the leader of your company and all of its business practices, it’s up to you to lead the charge and make social responsibility a core component of every layer of your operations.
By actively encouraging the development of socially responsible programs, and soliciting ideas and participation from your employees and making sure that your company “puts its money where it’s mouth is” when it comes to social responsibility, you can ensure that your business has a positive impact on the world.
Improving your corporate social responsibility is just one way to improve your company’s performance. Come explore our optimizing business performance case study to learn more about how you can help your company to reach its full potential.