CSR – the right balance

by | Feb 3, 2020

Leading on from our business column in The Pershore Times, we explore the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and how finding the right balance is key to you and your organisation, with some tips to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility into your Marketing Plan.

Corporate Social Responsibility lets companies put their expertise and money into helping local communities, while illustrating that business is not just about making profits.

In recent years, there’s been a shift in public perceptions when it comes to business. Now, it’s not just quality products and services that pose the most significance in a buyer’s mind, but good values too. If anything, business has become about giving back and working in a collaborative way that offers solutions to help people and, indirectly, the world. According to UNESCO in 2017 £15.08 billion was spent on CSR by Fortune 500 companies.

Although CSR has become a fundamental aspect of any business strategy, giving back can also be one of those things that is pretty difficult to do. Too much and you can be called out for showboating. Too little and you may get criticised for not doing enough. This week, we explore some of the key ways to integrate CSR with your overall marketing plan.

Engage with employees

One of the greatest benefits of a community involvement or CSR programme is that it allows organisations to engage their employees on a variety of different levels, which ultimately drives overall engagement in your company.

Listen to your stakeholders, encourage them to brainstorm and come up with innovative and creative ideas that can help take a business in the right direction. For example, the team may have a personal interest in supporting one charity over another, and this will give them a chance to take further ownership of the idea.

A lot of companies offer paid time off for employees to volunteer. Also referred to as VTO, volunteer or voluntary time off lets employees give back to their communities in an outlet of their choosing such as fundraisers or collection drives to name a few. Employee volunteers could be diversifying your company’s outreach as well.

Align CSR with company objectives

Part of the reason why companies engage with CSR is to make their efforts known, and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, using the right language and not shining your own halo too brightly is crucial to the integrity of what you’re doing. If you align CSR with the company’s goals, then you may enjoy a more authentic experience. You’ll be able to not just make a difference to a charity and its stakeholders, but your own stakeholders too.

A structured and concise CSR strategy should tie in with the overall business objectives and ultimately the branding. CSR can really help bring profit to businesses as people will associate a business with being compassionate and socially constructive which will ultimately boost identity.

Research has shown that 81% of people would buy a product from an unknown brand if it has strong CSR commitments. Plus, 80% of customers would tell their family and friends about a company’s CSR efforts, thus making them advocates for your business.

Assume responsibility

Track your performance and identify what works. Instead of allowing your mission to fizzle out half way through the year like a New Year’s resolution, develop a method that allows for social efforts to be maintained. According to KPMG, more than 90% of the world’s top 250 companies now produce an annual report on CSR.

One of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen is to create a group of employee ambassadors specifically for this purpose. Serving as an ambassador helps ensure that employees are heavily involved with supporting the company’s good work, and that’s extremely powerful. It could provide an even greater impact on your CSR, as well as your brand and business goals next year.

Take it slowly

An important element to consider when integrating social responsibility into your business is that it usually doesn’t happen overnight. For perfectly integrating CSR into your business model, you will probably need to learn as you go. Let the business grow at its natural pace. It’s easy to get too ahead of yourself in the first stages – be open to adaptation and lay out the strengths and weaknesses of the business.

Nothing too awful can come from solving a social problem and giving back to the community, so be sure to take things slowly, act responsibly and do what is most important and meaningful to your brand, employees and consumers. You’ll see all three flourish in no time.

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