May 30, 2017

Corporate Social Responsibility is More Than a Marketing Strategy

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 increasing 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.

Companies like Microsoft and Disney have set an example with their commitments to ethical labor practices, diversity, environmental sustainability, and employee volunteer programs.

Yet, despite many of the amazing things that corporations can accomplish with CSR initiatives, we still see many consumers criticize them as being nothing more than a publicity stunt stemming from profit-focused business leaders.

Although there is nothing wrong with building a CSR strategy stemming from your customers’ demands and expectations, it is important to make sure that the approach 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 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 it 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.

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 of 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 no vision behind what you are trying to accomplish. When business leaders put a vision and a goal behind their strategy, employees can 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 in front of mind by highlighting pictures and handwritten letters from the children we are helping on our wall in the studio.

Compassion International Support in the PHOS 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 company’s profitability. 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.”
-Andy Stanley

The global mission at PHOS inspires us to make a positive impact in everything we do, whether it’s halfway across the world or inside the office while brainstorming for a client. But that’s only one part of the formula that defines who we are as a company. Check out “Our Why” to learn more about what motivates our team.

Alexis Fillmer

With a strategic mind and a love for culture and leadership, Alexis spends each day working to get the most out of every idea and person on our team. As our Director of Operations, she’s responsible for creating organizational clarity, ensuring excellence in our services, and creating a culture in which our team members can flourish.

Outside of PHOS, you can find Alexis playing with her son at the park, starting a new house project (and maybe finishing it), at the nearest farmer’s market, trying a new recipe, or scoping out live music with her husband.