What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?

In today’s socially conscious environment, employees and customers place a premium on working for and spending their money with businesses that prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR).CSR is an evolving business practice that incorporates sustainable development into a company’s business model. It has a positive impact on social, economic and environmental factors.Katie Schmidt, the founder and lead designer of Passion Lilie, said CSR can positively impact your business by improving your company image, building your brand and motivating you as a business owner.

“What the public thinks of your company is critical to its success,” Schmidt told Business News Daily. “By building a positive image that you believe in, you can make a name for your company as being socially conscious.”As the use of corporate responsibility expands, it is becoming extremely important to have a socially conscious image. Consumers, employees and stakeholders are beginning to prioritize CSR when choosing a brand or company. They are holding corporations accountable for effecting social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits.”A robust CSR program is an opportunity for companies to demonstrate their good corporate citizenship … and protect the company from outsized risk by looking at the whole social and environmental sphere that surrounds the company,” said Jen Boynton, CEO of B Targeted Marketing Co.

To illustrate how critical social responsibility has become, previous research by Cone Communications found that more than 60% of Americans hope businesses will drive social and environmental change in the absence of government regulation. Nearly 90% of the consumers surveyed said they would purchase a product because a company supported an issue they care about. More importantly, roughly 75% will refuse to buy from a company if they learn it supports an issue contrary to their own beliefs.Consumers aren’t the only ones who are drawn to businesses that give back. Susan Cooney, head of global diversity, equity and inclusion at Symantec, said that a company’s sustainability strategy is a big factor in where today’s top talent chooses to work.”The next generation of employees is seeking out employers that are focused on the triple bottom line: people, planet and revenue,” said Cooney. “Coming out of the recession, corporate revenue has been getting stronger. Companies are encouraged to put that increased profit into programs that give back.”In addition to a better company image, Schmidt said sustainable development can help your business financially. For example, using less packaging and less energy can reduce production costs.

4 types of corporate responsibility

Recognizing how important socially responsible efforts are to their customers, employees and stakeholders, many companies now focus on a few broad CSR categories:

Environmental efforts: One primary focus of corporate social responsibility is the environment. Businesses, regardless of size, have large carbon footprints. Any steps they can take to reduce those footprints are considered good for both the company and society.

Philanthropy: Businesses can practice social responsibility by donating money, products or services to social causes and nonprofits. Larger companies tend to have a lot of resources that can benefit charities and local community programs. It is best to consult with these organizations about their specific needs before donating.

Ethical labor practices: By treating employees fairly and ethically, companies can demonstrate their social responsibility. This is especially true of businesses that operate in international locations with labor laws that differ from those in the United States.

Volunteering: Attending volunteer events says a lot about a company’s sincerity. By doing good deeds without expecting anything in return, companies can express their concern for specific issues and commitment to certain organizations.