The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (or CSR) has become quite a standard term for businesses to adopt in recent years. Though it’s talked about and promoted, CSR often starts and ends with big dreams simply because few actually understand the true meaning of the term and why it is so important.
The basic idea behind CSR is simple: when a corporation works in order to benefit society, the corporation benefits as a result.
Why is CSR important for corporations to focus on? Because as society becomes increasingly competitive, consumers will be more choosy in their providers and care more about the corporate responsibility programs that corporations either have or don’t have in place.
Must Companies be Socially Responsible?
The truth is that a company doesn’t necessarily need to be socially responsible, but if they want to build their brand for the long run and ensure customer loyalty, they should definitely consider it. According to a study conducted by media company Cone Communications, 9 out of 10 consumers indicated that they expect companies to act responsibly towards society rather than solely focus on profit, indicating that the level of importance a company places on corporate social responsibility will ultimately impact its bottom line.9/10 consumers expect companies to act responsibly towards society #CSR @Cone Click To Tweet
What this means to companies is that the current market situation doesn’t accept ‘simply profiting’. Companies must show that they recognize their power and impact and use it to benefit society as a whole.
Because of the above mentioned effects CSR has on current and potential users or customers, it has become a differentiator in the competitive landscape – as a result of the increased awareness consumers and businesses have on the world around them, the impact a company has on the community is as important as the quality of their product.
Beyond doing good for society, corporations have to recognize the impact they have on the environment and be accountable for the outcomes they explicitly or inadvertently cause.
Social Responsibility – How to
To be socially responsible, corporations must first make a conscious shift in thought and recognize that they want to give back; once that is done, the rest is (relatively) easy.
Many companies chose to implement corporate social responsibility programs that aim to improve one or multiple aspects of society, often those that are directly related to their industry.
Companies with large factories or whose environmental impact is significant, often choose to focus their social responsibility efforts on offsetting their carbon footprint or inevitable damage to the environment. Other companies choose to focus their charity work in the local community in order to strengthen the area in which their business is located or through employing ethical labor practices that transcend country barriers (especially important for companies who have large operations in countries without labor laws).
Ultimately what is important in CSR programs is the recognition of a company that when they have the power to do good, they must lead the way for others – specifically by taking responsibility for elements of society such as environmental impacts, employee rights and more.
Taking Responsibility – Fake News
One of the hottest topics in corporate social responsibility is fake news. More specifically, the question of ‘whose fault is it?’ arises, as the fault or ‘responsibility’ does not fall on one company or another.
After the U.S. presidential elections, Facebook, alongside many other companies, came under fire for enabling the distribution of misinformation at a massive scale. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, initially claimed that the sheer amount of information and content uploaded to the platform every second made it impossible to filter, however, months later the company recognized that they have a responsibility to ensure consumers are getting accurate information. In a December blog post, Facebook announced the implementation of procedures to reduce hoaxes and fake news from being distributed on the platform. Procedures included the ability to report and flag fake news as well as their cooperation with third-party verification organizations to validate or refute distributed content.
While Facebook taking responsibility is a step in the right direction, SVP of Apple, Eddy Cue, recognized that it is not just Facebook’s fault, but that Apple, alongside every other tech company, has “a responsibility” to the public to provide validated and legitimate information
Ultimately CSR is truly a win-win for all parties involved. Society benefits from the corporations giving back, and the corporations benefit from a positive image, gained trust among the public, and ultimately, an increased bottom line.