When deciding which companies to buy from or invest in today, many buyers look beyond posted profits and stock market performance. They are equally concerned about joining forces with businesses that give back to the community and use environmentally sound practices through a commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Consider that 84 percent of respondents in a global survey on the topic said they seek to buy products made in an environmentally responsible manner whenever possible. Another 91 percent stated that they expect businesses they interact with to contribute towards improving or resolving environmental and social issues.
It’s Not All Expectation and No Benefits for Businesses
Reading the above, it might seem like companies must acquiesce to consumer demands if they hope to remain competitive and profitable. However, businesses have much to gain by incorporating a corporate social responsibility program, including:
- A way to differentiate from the competition: Although this benefit is not as strong as it once was since more companies now participate in corporate social responsibility, it’s still effective. For example, a company that donates new shoes to athletes participating in the Special Olympics may stand out more for that than the different brands of shoes it sells.
- Sustainability leads to big cost savings: Implementation of ideas such as reduced water usage and zero pollution not only save the environment, they can bring a company considerable cost savings as well.
- Future-oriented thinking: A company acting in an ethical manner sends the message that it cares about the impact it has on future society.
- Attract new customers and employees: People who see a company contributing resources to a cause they care about may want to buy from it more or even work there.
- Improve employee satisfaction: It’s human nature to want to want to make a difference in the world. A company that regularly provides its employees with this opportunity can expect to see better retention rates and higher levels of job satisfaction.
Establish a Corporate Social Responsibility Program for the Right Reasons
As more businesses get on board with sustainability, human rights, and service to others, it creates a positive ripple effect across entire industries. Some cynical people have used this trend to claim this is only a fad, yet it continues to grow.
The key to creating a lasting corporate responsibility program is to involve stakeholders and employees when integrating environmental and social issues into the way a company runs its business. It’s also a good idea to find out what is most important to customers. Of course, an honest to desire to make a difference and not just come up with a self-serving marketing plan is essential.
An Example from Google’s Playbook
Most people know about Google, the most powerful search engine in the world. Fewer know about its environmental initiative called Google Green. This is a corporate-wide effort to decrease the amount of resources it uses and to throw its support behind renewable power. It has been good for the world and good for Google. By following its own program, Google has dropped the use of power in its data centers by 50 percent.
One corporate social responsibility program might not change the world but imagine the impact if all businesses with the resources to contribute did so.