When we talk about Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, we tend to think about “the ethical code of the company”. In reality it’s something much more complex. It involves strategic choices that reconcile commercial objectives and the protection of society and the environment. But also the relationship that the company establishes with its workers and customers.
Since, in some parts, CSR is well regulated both nationally and internationally, it’s easy to take it for granted. (Almost) all companies guarantee workers’ rights, do not use child labor, respect environmental norms and what is required by law.
But in other areas Enterprises are granted a certain freedom of social action, which they can, and should, exploit. The initiatives in this regard are many and different. They range from very small positions to battles carried out as a corporate ideal. No one forces companies to create Foundations to support specific causes, or one requires companies to do corporate volunteering. No one forces a company to donate money or time. It all depends on their initiative.
Yet in Corporate Social Responsibility lies an important occasion. The branding of companies passes through it, and above all the engagement of the various stakeholders. So taking the right initiatives can positively influence the business in several ways:
CSR and employees
When employees are aligned with the company values, it means they are not coming to the office or factory just for their paychecks. It means that they have a mission to fulfill and they will be more attentive, focused and productive. Gallup research has shown that in an environment with high engagement:
- productivity increases by 51%,
- absenteeism is reduced by 41%
- sales increase by 20%.
In addition there are major improvements in work accidents (-70%) and product defects (-40%).
These are impressive numbers that show how much changes in a company that handles Corporate Social Responsibilities.
CSR and branding
CSR also affects the entire society, in the broadest sense. Companies tend to forget this, but Society is one of the company’s most important stakeholders. It’s easier to perceive when the repercussions are negative (see the recent Greenpeace campaign against plastic pollution that involves directly Nestlè). But the positive effects are equally important.
For example, finance giant Wells Fargo sets an annual donation target of 1.5% of its income to charitable causes. In addition to financial donations, Wells Fargo offers his employees two days of paid corporate volunteering per year.
More than half of the Fortune 100s do corporate volunteering, to encourage their workers to contribute to their local community. Allowing employees to participate in Corporate Social Responsibility is a simple way to improve the sense of belonging to the company.
CSR and sales
Corporate Social Responsibility also has an important influence on customer choices. Here too there is often a strong perception of the negative effects, and less of the positive ones. Yet there are positive effects.
Suffice it to say that 80% of adolescents consider the values of the company among the most important factors to decide on a purchase (the quality is just above, with 81%).
The recent participation of two fashion giants in the accommodation of Notre Dame, through extremely large donations, has aroused enormous interest. It is evident that advocating a cause with so much visibility has brought repercussions on the image of corporate groups. As a result, sales will also be positively affected.
Do have Corporate Social Responsibility
It is worth having a well-defined CSR policy. It does not require enormously demanding investments. Moreover it can be commensurate with the company reality. Doing it correctly helps all stakeholders, but it helps the company double. Because with greater engagement of employees and customers, the benefit is all about the budget!
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