Getting Started with Corporate Social Responsibility
Giving back is an important part of being a business owner; maybe you organize a company-wide volunteer outing or donate a certain percentage of profits to a charity each year. Many companies take charitable giving a step farther and establish corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. These programs help boost transparency between businesses, their employees and consumers by formalizing a commitment to improve society in some way, usually in a way that aligns with the mission of the business.
A well-established CSR program boosts retention among current employees, helps to recruit new employees and improves customer loyalty. In fact, 79 percent of Millennials consider CSR when deciding where to work and 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies.
Where to start
The first step to launching your CSR program is choosing a purpose. What is a cause you feel passionate about? How will it complement your business model and mission? The most common causes include education, environment, economic development and youth services.
You’ll also need to consider the geographic footprint of the cause you choose. Will you focus your efforts locally or do you prefer an initiative that has a global impact?
Starbucks, for example, has CSR initiatives related to ethical coffee sourcing and investing in farmers to name a few and each year they publish a CSR report that boasts achievements in these areas.
Once you choose a cause, you’ll want to establish specific goals and detail how you plan to reach them. The key to success in this phase is regularly soliciting feedback from the employees and outside vendors involved. Sharing your progress and discussing what’s working and what’s not, will enable you to make improvements along the way.
As you reach different milestones, make sure to share your success with your customers. You can do this in many ways, such as a formal report at the end of the year, an email announcement from the CEO or sharing photos on social media.
The bottom line
The benefits of establishing a CSR program are wide reaching; from improved employee retention to increased customer satisfaction and beyond. When choosing a cause, make sure to find something that aligns with your business mission and something that your employees and customers will feel passionate about. Finally, make sure to communicate and celebrate your successes along the way!