Why Social Responsibility is Important to Your Business –
Good Things Do Happen to Good People!
By Dianne Taylor
I took part in a training exercise where half the class pretended to be ‘employers’. The other half of the class pretended to be ‘potential employees.’ We (the ‘employers’) had to find a way to attract the ‘employees’ to come and work for us.
Sounds simple? Well I thought so. I was an employer offering flexible working hours, a great salary and career development. Yet my new recruits were undecided. But then I spoke about our corporate social responsibility program and they were suddenly a whole lot more enthusiastic. I signed them up.
Okay, so it was only a game. But it is a great example of how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can make all the difference to your competitive position. Initiatives such as pro bono work, philanthropy, support for community-building initiatives and environmental awareness can add significant value to your company, and if the program is well designed the benefits far outweigh the costs.
An easy way for your company to build its brand, reputation and public profile
Being socially responsible creates goodwill and a positive image for your brand. Trust and a good reputation are some of your company’s most valuable assets. In fact, without these, you wouldn’t even have a business. You can nurture these important assets by being socially responsible.
It is however, crucial that you devise the right socially responsible program for your business. When used properly, it will open up a myriad of new relationships and opportunities. Not only will your success grow, but so will your company’s culture. It will become a culture which you, your staff and the wider community genuinely believe in.
Corporate Social Responsibility attracts and retains staff
Did you know that socially responsible companies report increased employee commitment, performance and job satisfaction? Yes, it is in us all to want to do ‘good’ (and perhaps be recognised for it). Our lives become meaningful when we realise our work has made a positive difference in some way. It makes all our striving worth it. In fact, a 2003 Stanford University study found MBA graduates would sacrifice an average $US13700 cut in their salary to work for a socially responsible company. By attracting, retaining and engaging staff, ‘doing good’ for others reduces your recruitment costs and improves work productivity. It’s just plain good all round!
Customers are attracted to socially responsible companies
Branding your business as ‘socially responsible’ differentiates you from your competitors. The Body Shop and Westpac are companies who have used this to their advantage. Developing innovative products that are environmentally or socially responsible adds value and gives people a good reason to buy from you.
Corporate Social Responsibility attracts investors
Investors and financiers are attracted to companies who are socially responsible. These decision-makers know this reflects good management and a positive reputation. Don’t underestimate this influence; it can be just as important as your company’s financial performance. In fact, it may be the deciding factor in choosing to support your company.
Corporate Social Responsibility encourages professional (and personal) growth
Your staff can develop their leadership and project management skills through a well-designed corporate social responsibility program. This may be as simple as team building exercises, encouraging your employees to form relationships with people they would not normally meet (like disadvantaged groups).
Corporate Social Responsibility helps to cut your business costs
Environmental initiatives such as recycling and conserving energy increase in-house efficiency and cut costs. Introducing a corporate social responsibility program gives you a good reason to examine and improve on your spending!
Two important tips for you
Before you rush into your own corporate social responsibility program remember:
- You must implement your program strategically. Just giving a donation is not enough. The best corporate social responsibility programs are based on a two-way relationship with you and each of the organisations you are involved with. This allows both parties to be challenged and grow together.
- Your corporate social responsibility commitments should be in line with the values of your company, customers and staff. Most importantly, they must be based on a genuine concern for people and the community. You do not want the program to back-fire; making you seem hypocritical. A poor strategy will cause people to become cynical and distrustful of your company.
So what should you do next?
It is a highly competitive world out there. If you want people to buy from you, work for you and invest in you – look seriously at corporate social responsibility.
With over 25 years as the co-owner of a successful engineering business combined with a background in leadership development and education, Dianne Taylor brings a wealth of experience to her clients. Dianne’s practical experience is supported by qualifications in coaching, training, business and human resource management. She is a former lecturer in Leadership at Monash University and serves as a Director on several Boards. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org