Why should you care?
With the rise of social enterprises over recent years, more and more companies are shouting about their focus on social responsibility. Whether it’s championing women’s rights, protecting the environment or attempting to obliterate poverty. Their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming their ‘why’ rather than profit-making.
Given the current situation with Covid-19, businesses social responsibility is more important than ever and we only expect this trend to continue.
Whilst the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not new, it still isn’t always a consideration taken seriously.
But, what is CSR?
The European Union define CSR as:
“The voluntary integration of companies’ social and ecological concerns into their business activities and their relationships with their stakeholders. Being socially responsible means not only fully satisfying the applicable legal obligations but also going beyond and investing ‘more’ in human capital, the environment, and stakeholder relations.”
One of the widely adopted ways of depicting CSR is using Carroll’s pyramid – a simple framework that helps argue how and why businesses should meet their social responsibilities. He describes four key responsibilities:
Essentially, profitability is the foundation of your ability to accomplish anything. From there, businesses should consider their legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities. These elements are not sequential, but all need to be considered at the same time.
It’s not always about doing what’s legal, but it’s about doing what’s right!
Why should you care?
In recent years, agribusiness has been confronted with increasing numbers of crises and conflicts and are regularly in the public eye. Clear disparities between consumers’ perceptions and agricultural reality can be observed. As a result, there is a general discontent which has put agribusiness and the food industry at the core of societal debates.
When it comes to building a reputation and maintaining trust, authenticity is a company’s greatest asset. It’s not enough to simply talk a good game, this talk must be reflected in behaviour.
FleighmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap study measures the divide between audience expectations and their actual experience.
According to this research, only 51% of consumer attitudes to a brand is influenced by their products and services. The other half is shaped by information regarding how management behaves and the way the company engages with social issues.
Whilst consumers don’t necessarily expect you to fix everything, you will be scrutinised to make a positive difference on issues under your control.
Concerns about data security and privacy continue to be prevalent, while income and wage gaps are becoming more of a talking point. But it is protecting the environment and climate that has seen a surge in expectations, with 59% of consumers expecting companies to make a stand on climate and environmental issues.
5 benefits of a CSR strategy
- Improved public image – by showing that you’re committed to being socially responsible, you’ll appear much more favourable to consumers.
- Increased brand awareness and recognition – if you’re committed to ethical practices, tell people and news will spread.
- Cost savings – many simple changes such as using less packaging will help decrease production costs.
- Advantage over competitors – establish yourself as a company committed to going that one step further.
- Greater employee engagement – It’s proven that employees enjoy working more for a company that has a good public image. Furthermore, by showing you’re committed to things like gender pay equality, you’re much more likely to attract and retain top candidates.
When developing CSR policies, it doesn’t have to be one big grand gesture. Often the most meaningful changes are those that take place over time, like continually improving waste management, car share initiatives or fundraising for local charities.
One could argue that farmers were one of the first adopters of CSR led enterprises as “custodians of the land”. They are responsible for taking care of their livestock, their crops, their land, providing essential food, no more so than at this time! And the drive behind all of this is their social responsibility, because they care.
Ask yourself: Why, as a business, do you do what you do?
This answer shouldn’t be to make money, making a profit is a result, not a reason why. By simply asking yourself this question and establishing why you do what you do, you can start to build your CSR strategy.
For any advice on your CSR strategy contact Hillsgreen today.