CSR Conversation

Photo By Geoff Duncan

Thanks to 24/7 digital connection between consumer and company, the responsibility of enterprises is under scrutiny more than ever before.

Every purchase made by the public today is a vote, and consumers are taking more ownership over the votes they cast.

Empowered consumers are demanding more transparency from the corporate world and corporations are responding in a variety of different ways as they operate in this new landscape. A company culture impacts profits, employee turnover, job satisfaction and media coverage so it is up to companies and its senior executive team to create and apply a consciously planned responsibility program. Being involved in communities, giving back and being a socially responsible corporation is a smart and rewarding business strategy.

How can you help your business to adapt? How can you create a sensible and impactful CSR program?

Step 1: Find Out What You Care About
Some businesses are famous for how they have built CSR programs into the fabric of their business. Tom’s Shoes for instance has weaved in a socially conscious business approach to its strategy but if that’s not your case then you should start by creating a corporate social responsibility mission or vision statement.

It needs to be in line with the company’s DNA think of Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet.

To do so, you can use digital tools to engage employees in the vision/mission statement defining process. Ask them what they want the company to take on or how the company can give back. Then use those ideas to create a truly vibrant corporate social responsibility program. A program that has been created collaboratively is more likely to be strongly endorsed by your team.

Step 2: Enlist Everyone
When a company aligns its mission with a well-defined corporate social responsibility campaign, customers and business partners are much more likely to jump on board. Make sure your company is ready to act on what it promises to deliver.

Then ask customers, stakeholders, partners, to join your cause by using social media, email newsletters and blog posts to generate interest and gather support. Enlist everyone. Implementing a sustainable caring strategy is a collaborative effort.

Step 3: Find A Partner
Identify a non for profit that is in line with your company’s mission/vision statement.

If you can integrate your efforts with an established program, your time, money and social outreach will have a greater and a more significant impact.

The partnership may generate more on-the-ground results and goodwill so don’t hesitate to cooperate with them to forward your mission and theirs. Who Cares Chronicles provides matchmaking services for corporations that need help in identifying key social partners.

Step 4: Nominate a Chief Care Officer
Sustainable and impactful CSR strategies are led by people.

Many large corporations have “caring” teams leading sustainability and CSR efforts.

CSR initiatives are often led by passionate individuals or managers around a specific issue or cause. They enlist their co-workers and create “caring” teams. They develop a mission and organically grow within the company rising to the C-Suite level.

I recommend identifying a Chief Care Officer amongst the C level executive team. It can be anyone, as long as the person as shown tremendous dedication in making sure the company’s CSR vision is being created and implemented effectively. It all comes down to one individual echoing the message across all the departments and diffusing a sustainable CSR campaign that everyone can identify with and endorse.

Who Cares Chronicles hopes to see the role of Chief Care officer becoming the norm. A Chief Care officer is an internal vector of change, providing support and concrete examples on how a CSR campaign is positively impacting the business strategy, opportunities and social outreach.

Step 5: Be Authentic
Authenticity is part of the equation. Back up your company’s corporate social responsibility mission with genuine passion, words and actions. People and millennials in particular will not engage nor endorse a CSR program if they believe a corporation is only using charity as a cover up for poor corporate governance.

Promoting cause awareness and educating consumers of the company’s CSR programs pays off, primarily with an increase in brand reputation, purchasing behaviors and sales through word-of-mouth.

Josie Maran’s cosmetics and Shea Moisture with their “a Better Way to Beautiful” tagline are prime examples of the integration of such principles in the cosmetics industry. As millennials ask for more sustainable actions from companies in their CSR programs, their influence also extends to other areas. Social media, evolving mobile technology, and digital innovation all resulted from the needs and patterns of the millennial generation. You cannot fool millennials or fake good corporate citizenship and authenticity.

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