Originally published May 31, 2022 , updated on May 31, 2022Reading Time: 9 minutes
Consumer trends and expectations have shifted, and companies must adapt to a competitive and evolving market. Developing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy is an excellent way to do this. In addition to providing a reason for being and a positive impact on the world, an effective CSR strategy can also result in great financial benefits.
The economic market is disruptive. So, in an agile market, your business must take all the necessary precautions to reduce unnecessary risks and unplanned costs. It’s why social responsibility strategies have become so important. Social responsibility strategies are more than the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with adding value to the world. In business, it’s a mandate that lies at your company’s core. But an effective CSR strategy needs to be well-planned, well-executed, and well-monitored. This is how they contribute to success.
Let’s dive into why social responsibility in business is essential and what you can do to implement a strategy that promotes yours.
What Are Social Responsibility Strategies, Anyway?
A CSR strategy refers to the policies and practices aimed at making a company’s operations as ethical as possible. They focus on addressing social and environmental issues.
To put it simply: developing a CSR strategy is about creating business practices that have a positive impact on the world.
Now, some critics say that CSR strategies distract from the core business offerings. However, studies show that developing a CSR strategy has several benefits that add value to your company, employees and the world at large.
Let’s get into some of these benefits.
Your Public Image
People measure your social responsibility in business by considering its impact on society and the environment. But demonstrating your impact is what feeds your public image.
When you share an annual report or regular posts about your CSR mission, your public image improves. By showcasing your dedication to bringing about positive change with professional white papers, your business is likely to see a boost in its public engagement.
Transparency breeds trust and customers support the brands they trust. Social responsibility strategies can help foster this which brings you financial rewards in the long term.
Transparency Is Trending
Now let’s tuck into transparency.
In a world of social media, the public really has its say. This means you’ll need to practise what you preach. If not, you risk being ‘cancelled.’ Cancel culture is millennial and Gen-Z slang for publicly withdrawing support. This usually happens online. So it will be a negative response to a company or public figure for doing something that goes against their values.
That’s right – your online audience is watching, and they’ll also hold you accountable if you aren’t living up to ethical standards. And with the rise of social media and the growing digital market, a solid online reputation has become non-negotiable. Thought-out social responsibility strategies are a way to keep your brand in alignment with your company’s and your customer’s values to ensure good rapport with your target audience.
Communicate Your Strategy
Staying true to the promises your business makes is much more likely when you publish your intentions. But communicating your strategy does more than boost your public reputation and hold you accountable. It’s an indirect way of contributing to the solution by educating your audience too.
A business passionate about its CSR strategy drives action. It uses emotive messaging in its content to get its audience amped and involved. Emotive content drives engagement by encouraging comments, shares and likes – opening up important conversations on various digital streams. These feed into real life, encouraging your audience to take action, and also actually do something about the issue at hand.
Overall, emotive content creates awareness and inspires your audience into action. This is highly advantageous, and shows that content can be leveraged – used as a powerful driving force that amplifies your mission.
The Ripple Effect of Being Accountable
Remember that adopting social responsibility in business has two main focuses. These are the social and environmental impacts of your business.
78 percent of professionals believe that climate change will influence consumer trends. It’s clear they already have. Low-carbon lifestyles are not just trending – they’ve become core values. Nowadays, people expect brands to take responsibility. This includes how their products are designed, manufactured, distributed and even purchased. This is why environmental impact is a major focus when developing a CSR strategy.
It turns out that prioritising the environment is not just better for the planet. It’s also better for your business. For example, social responsibility strategies can create policies that help your company meet environmental targets. Down the line, this could protect your business from fines and penalties. Energy-efficient manufacturing methods lower energy and even reduce waste removal costs. Further to this, consumers respond more positively to environmentally-considerate companies, resulting in stronger leads and increased brand loyalty.
The Social Aspect
On top of making sure companies meet their environmental expectations, CSR strategies address social aspects. This way, they make sure a company looks after the community, its customers, and its staff as it grows.
2021 saw a 71 percent rise in online searches for sustainable products. This shows that there is a growing demand for sustainable products. And you should expect these numbers to increase. By offering eco-friendly products to the public, you tap into a growing market. And offering desirable and highly-sought after products is sure to boost your bottom line.
What’s more, consumers are human beings. Human beings care about the wellbeing of other human beings. If you make it clear that your CSR strategy and its values are beneficial to your employees, supply chain and wider community, people will surely want to support your mission. They know that the best way to do this is to support your business.
Overall, the majority of consumers prefer to buy from those whose values resonate with theirs, opting to support businesses that prioritise collective wellness over those that prioritise capitalism.
The Price of Purpose
Nowadays, the consumer expects the brand to be person-focused and purpose-driven. It must offer consumer experiences that focus on being environmentally and socially sustainable. Basically, your business must be clear about reducing its carbon impact. It must support communities and look after its staff too. But there’s more.
Your buyer also wants an efficient, easy and experiential consumer experience. And they want to feel supported along the way.
Customers want to live in alignment with their values when they make purchases. They want to feel good once they’ve invested in your brand. And like we’ve said, they want to feel connected to your brand throughout the buying journey.
Social responsibility strategies are a way to keep people connected to your brand. Customers derive a sense of purpose when they support a brand that resonates with their values.
Incorporating Social Responsibility Into Your Business
Social responsibility strategies in business mean this: On top of maximising value, the company must act in a way that benefits society. Your business is expected to be purpose-driven and people-centric. In other words, this means they look after their employees, their customers, and the wider community.
If you want to see the benefits of your CSR strategy, it needs to be well-planned. This means your efforts result in outcomes. And these outcomes must be shared.
Developing a CSR strategy can help you pivot your positive practices in a way that eventually boosts impact. Developing one centres around four main focus areas.
A Business’s Four Social Responsibilities
- Environmental Responsibility
Create policies and practices that ensure your business processes are environmentally sustainable. Some examples include using energy, recycling, and managing your waste disposal responsibly. It can also include tracking and reducing your carbon emissions. You could even make your office space and your travel methods eco-friendly.
- Ethical Responsibility
Having a CSR strategy that focuses on ethics means that your business adheres to fair practice methods. To clarify, this includes treating all employees with respect and ensuring that they have equal opportunities and equal pay.
- Philanthropic Responsibility
Philanthropy includes your acts of charity. For example, a corporation could donate a portion of its profits to a charity of its choice.
- Economic Responsibility
Economic responsibilities take on many forms. This includes making up for any income equalities that are based on gender or race.
Choosing Your CSR Strategy
Your business doesn’t need to focus on each point to make an impact. If your brand values align with a certain topic, you can dedicate your CSR strategy to making an impact on that specifically. Once you’ve chosen your focus, you can begin to develop your CSR strategy around solving it.
For example, at Goodman Lantern, our CSR strategy focuses on economic issues. We’ve prioritised gender equality, with an emphasis on solving the gender gap in the marketing and technology sector. We’ve highlighted this issue as it’s indicative of a much larger, systemic issue relating to women’s empowerment worldwide. In the US, for example, 50 percent of the working population is women but only 25 percent work in the technology industry.
Women’s empowerment lies close to the heart of our founder and CEO, Raj Goodman Anand. Raj was raised in the Middle East and India, and therefore, was exposed to the injustices surrounding gender equality from a young age. As he got older, he noticed that these inequalities followed women into the working world too. Now, he’s aimed to solve this, and likewise, women’s empowerment has become Goodman Lantern’s core mission.
Goodman Lantern carries out this mission in its work approach. It offers remote, flexible work opportunities that provide mentorship to women with ample room for growth.
Our blog and social media posts are an example of how to use content to add a powerful voice that drives your CSR strategy. Passionately communicating your mission in your content streams creates awareness, which consequently facilitates conversations that inspire public action.
It’s clear: Communicating your mission is as important as carrying it out.
Yes, Your Business Needs a Social Responsibility Strategy
It makes sense to research and plan appropriately before executing your initiatives. This is because developing a CSR strategy can be complex. What’s more, since they’re measured and often shared with the public or your stakeholders, they must be impactful. The results must be clear, tracked, and showcased.
Since these initiatives are public-facing, a poorly run CSR program can lead to a poor brand reputation. Nowadays, consumers have high standards, only supporting brands that are honest and impactful.
If you want to really reap the rewards of incorporating social responsibility into your business, it needs to be brand-aligned, well-researched, and responsive. It must also have measurable pay-offs.
Developing Your CSR Strategy
There are ways to bring social responsibility into business to ensure you, and the world, reap the rewards.
- Firstly, hire a Corporate SocialTo Summarise Responsibility Coordinator for your business. This person becomes your company’s conscience. They’re in charge of developing your CSR strategy. They plan, manage and monitor your initiatives.
- Next, make sure to connect the CSR strategy to your company values. This requires getting clear on what you stand for and also doing your research. At the end of the day, you’ll want your plan to tap into what your customers, employees, and community members care about.
- As part of your research process, you could create a customer survey. This also gives you the opportunity to reach out to your customer base and collect valuable information. You can use this survey to gauge the environmental and social issues that matter to them most.
- When developing your social responsibility initiatives, always involve your employees. Ask for, and listen to employee feedback. Establish buy-in and rapport from your employees, and even involve them in your strategy building.
- Rolling out initiatives means incorporating social responsibility into your business plan. Next, look at how you’ll monitor progress. This way, you can make adjustments where you see fit. You can also ensure your initiatives and programs are still working and relevant.
- Consider how you will communicate your initiatives with your customers. Your messaging must be clear and transparent. You could even hire a content writing company that’s well-versed in story-telling and CSR strategies to do it for you.
According to this IBM’s 2022 report, consumers support businesses that tap into their morals. These are sustainability, conscious consumption, and brands that offer value and are driven by purpose. In fact, purpose-driven consumers represent the largest portion of consumers today, at 44 percent.
Ultimately, consumer expectations are growing. Now, they expect companies to prioritise making the world a better place. Bring social responsibility into your business by serving your communities. You must also listen to your customers and support employee growth.
Adopting a CSR strategy is the perfect way to tap on all those touchpoints.
Are You Ready to Make an Impact?
By now, you should know what a CSR mission is and also what forming a social responsibility strategy entails. We hope we’ve made it clear how you can go about developing a CSR strategy for the betterment of your business and the world at large.
Should you require consultation on how to develop your CSR strategy or improve marketing and content distributions in promoting your mission, get in touch with us. When you choose Goodman Lantern as your service provider, you contribute to our impact, and we’d love to help you make an impact too.