Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the concept that every business should be concerned with more than just profits. And with generations that care more about the impact that businesses have on social, economic, and environmental issues, there has been an increasing amount of pressure from stakeholders to make CSR an integral part of a company’s business strategy.
In fact, according to a Cone Communications study, 87% of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.
Yet, despite many of the amazing things that corporations are able to accomplish with CSR initiatives, we still see many consumers criticize them as being nothing more than a publicity stunt stemmed from profit-focused business leaders.
Although there is nothing wrong with building a CSR strategy stemmed from the demands and expectations of your customers, it is important to make sure that the strategy is consistent with the mission, vision, and values of your company.
Make What You Market
The biggest reason CSR initiatives fall short is that they feel ingenuine to employees and customers. This happens when the main driver is marketing.
When companies spend all of their time focusing on how their CSR strategy will make their brand look great, they miss out on making moves that will actually impact the community and live up to the things their marketing campaigns are saying.
At PHOS, we love the mindset of making what you market. We consider “Proof” the fifth marketing P and define it as being exactly what is sounds like. It’s evidence that your messaging matches – or doesn’t match – with what you are providing your customer
When it comes to CSR, practicing what you preach or making what you market is crucial.
A CSR strategy practiced with integrity can do much more good for your company than great publicity.
So, how can you start making what you market, keeping the focus on the cause, and letting your actions speak louder than words? There are a couple things that we practice at PHOS that we think any business could benefit from.
Create a Vision for Your CSR
Your CSR initiative doesn’t mean much when there is not a vision behind what you are trying to accomplish. When business leaders put a vision and a goal behind their strategy, employees are able to get behind it and customers understand why you are doing what you are doing.
Here at PHOS, we have a vision for our Global Mission. By the end of 2020, PHOS strives to support 20 children through Compassion International, a child advocacy ministry that releases children from physical, spiritual, social, and economic poverty.
We keep this vision front of mind by highlighting pictures and handwritten letters from the children we are helping on our wall in the studio.
Help Your Employees Get Involved
If your company truly cares about making a difference in the community, environment or workplace, your CSR strategy will allow them to get involved.
For smaller companies, allowing your employees to have a voice in the causes that they care about and enabling them to pursue those causes will give them clarity and confidence that you are interested in making a difference – even when nobody’s looking.
At PHOS, our team members have the option to take one day of paid time off per year to volunteer for a charity of their choice. Our team has been excited about this initiative and appreciative of the dedication to the community from leadership.
Other ways that we have seen companies involve their employees is by hosting group events to volunteer or creating friendly competition in food drives or sustainability initiatives.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
In this case, the prize is the positive impact that your company is working towards through your CSR initiatives. It’s important to steer away from always thinking about what your CSR initiatives will do for the profitability of the company. Your initiatives are not about the wonderful things that you are doing for the world. It is about the differences that you are contributing to and the impact that you are making.
When your focus is on the cause, the recognition will come on its own.
“The point of purpose is to determine how you will serve others.”