More and more organizations, big and small, are making a concerted effort to incorporate social responsibility into their corporate culture and these good deeds are being richly rewarded.
Studies have shown that consumers have very high expectations that the companies they do business with will be a good corporate citizen. And your employees are weighing in on the subject as well – 42 percent of professionals surveyed recently reported that an organization’s participation in charitable activities is at least somewhat of a factor in their decision to work there.
Isn’t all of this a happy coincidence? Good corporate citizenship yields more loyal customers, happier employees, and a better world!
I moderated a panel discussion at Counselors Academy earlier this month. Joining me on the panel talking about the business case for corporate social responsibility were Aaron Blank, president and CEO of The Fearey Group in Seattle, Nancy Page, executive vice president of Buchanan Public Relations in Philadelphia, and Esther Buchsbaum, managing partner of energi PR in Toronto. We are all active members in PRSA and Counselors Academy and are also members of an international network of independent PR firms known as the Public Relations Global Network.
Here’s a snapshot of what each is doing:
Aaron realizes that working within a city as sustainably-minded as Seattle, coupled with a growing “green” client roster, it was important (even necessary) to create a CSR program for his agency – one that would not only attract and retain employees and maintain strong client relationships, but also foster a sense of stewardship amongst the team members to do good while doing well. Aaron’s deep-rooted philosophy is that business success is more than just numbers – it’s about relationships and connections.
Nancy has diverse experience in communications, marketing and nonprofit consulting, having worked for large corporations, nonprofits and now on the agency side. When it comes to CSR, she’s been on both sides of the desk. Her experiences have given her a deep appreciation of the two obligations of business: profitability and good corporate citizenship. And that it is possible to achieve your corporate goals while at the same time doing good in the communities you serve.
Esther says for the past 25 years, paying it forward has always been, and will continue to be, an integral part of the agency culture at her firm. With a strong belief that businesses have a responsibility to give back to the communities that support them, energi PR has always encouraged and incorporated CSR initiatives into the communications strategies recommended to its diverse clients.
HMA has a longstanding history of supporting community and non-profit organizations and has worked with our clients over the years to incorporate social responsibility into their strategy.
And one thing we all know for sure, we have to continue to discuss this and recognize that CSR is about doing what's right simply because it is the right thing to do – that setting up a community kitchen is not just for the photo op and branding opportunity but that it is providing service to a community AND can be good for your business, too.
Sure, taking the high-road isn't as easy as going for profit above all else. Adding social responsibility into the mix, especially when looking at some of today’s highly divisive issues, may make doing CSR even harder. But that still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
As I was preparing for the talk I learned that India is the first country to have corporate social responsibility legislation, mandating that companies give two percent of their net profits to charitable causes. I don’t think legislating “doing right” is the answer. There are real benefits to engaging in corporate social responsibility programs. Let’s make it happen.