Have you ever heard of a win-win? While some cynics may believe they don’t exist, many others find that mutually beneficial partnerships are the veritable golden egg of the business world. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a fancy term for company programs that are giving back in order to accelerate social change while increasing their own profits.CSR can be implemented in many ways for a variety of businesses. The top three tiers of CSR are ethical labor, philanthropy and environmental sustainability. Of course, each business can manufacture its own take on how this looks for the company, but the effects can be far-reaching, even having global impacts. For example, Sands Las Vegas has received multiple awards for their sustainability work and have reaped great returns in revenue.
For skeptics, CSR sounds like a great way to get money-hungry corporations to open their wallets and give back a little. But remember the win-win? Most companies see a drastic increase in brand-loyalty, revenue and general rapport with consumers after implementing a CSR strategy. Included here are a few methods for implementing a CSR program in your business.
Consider Ethical Labor Practices
First of all, ethical labor practices should not be included in a CSR program but should be standard practice. Unfortunately, many companies have to seek these practices out intentionally to avoid underage workers or poor working conditions internationally. The simplest way to address your labor practices is to go to the source.
Every company is producing something that is deemed worthwhile to others. Often, corporations are manufacturing or harvesting a product overseas. By taking a good look at the social and economic situation your goods come from, you can begin to implement CSR.
The most simple step of CSR is ensuring that laborers are treated fairly. By giving each worker a living wage and legal working hours, you can begin to understand your company’s social responsibility.
Understand Local Economic Impacts
The next step, is to take into account the social impacts of your company. How does your company hurt or benefit the local economy? Are you driving up the price of one good that was necessary for survival? A good example of this would be the increased popularity and cost of quinoa in South America.
Sometime in the last few years, quinoa became touted as a superfood in North America. Quinoa is gluten-free, contains all 9 amino acids and offers itself as a “complete protein” to vegetarians and vegans. This popularity, understandably, greatly increased the price of quinoa, much to the detriment of South Americans who depended on the food.
The cost of quinoa accelerated so quickly that many South Americans found themselves unable to afford this healthful, and formerly cheap, dietary staple. While an obvious solution to this problem has not presented itself, the health of many locals has decayed as they are forced to substitute less healthy alternatives for their former staple, quinoa.
As a corporation, you should be considering these social and economic impacts. What if producers were paying their farmers enough to afford the quality seed? Alternatively, can major production be moved elsewhere or changed in a manner that can support local economy without destroying health?
Improve Environmental Impacts
Sustainability is defined as a practice that can be continued indefinitely. For example, this typically means a practice of business, farming or lifestyle that is not environmentally damaging and can continue indefinitely without increasing its environmental impact. Companies that consider sustainability are looking for ways to utilize resources without using them up.
The logging industry is a great example of a sustainable industry. Clearly, in some areas, logging has been misused and is not sustainable. However, in other areas, like the Northwest, it is a viable employer that is good for the environment and economy. Here’s why: logging utilizes a natural resource that is renewable.
Being socially responsible in the logging industry means avoiding clear-cutting and only cutting a set amount of trees per area. These trees are then replaced with new seedlings, creating a future harvest for another generation. Controlling overgrowth in certain forest areas can help avoid devastating forest fires that destroy homes and towns.
Corporate Social Responsibility can be the foundation for your company or merely a later addition. At any rate, it should play into your business practices in some form. Without social responsibility, corporations could feasibly destroy the very economies they rely on for revenue.