Responsibility is the Price of Greatness. – Winston Churchill.
We’ve all seen it happen. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, BMW, Starbucks all invest their hard gained dollars in building Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Be it Microsoft’s predilection towards funding learning initiatives like Microsoft YouthSpark or Starbucks loyalty to the environment, it seems like the big leagues use CSR to keep on top of their game.
So why has CSR become best business practice among high rollers? Why was Nobel laureate Milton Friedman so wrong in the 70’s when he wrote:
The Social Responsibility of Business is to increase its profits… CSR is a hypocritical window-dressing that reveals a suicidal impulse.
To follow, the reasons why you should jump on the CSR train. The train that will help catapult your business towards greater growth.
1. Brand Differentiation
CSR can help you create stronger brand loyalty, added value and a competitive advantage. A perfect example, American Apparel. Founded during the controversial years of outsourcing, sweatshops and human right breaches, American Apparel was able to permeate the fortressed membrane of the fashion industry. What was it’s secret weapon – unique selling proposition? CSR. American Apparel offered not only a t-shirt, it offered an image. You buy American Apparel, you care about labor standards, the environment, in short, about others. Today 25 Years later American Apparel is enjoying $547.34 million dollar revenue and a solid market position.
2. Human Resources
CSR can help you attract and retain the best of the best. Research by the Net Impact suggests that 65% of MBAs surveyed will consider more highly job offers from companies with a strong CSR vision and practice. CSR campaigns can also help create employee engagement and better working relations. Deloitte for example encourages corporate fund raising marathons and community projects where students come to visit the premises and are mentored by employees –Managers of the Future.
3. Risk Management
CSR can help you create certainty and minimize risks. By building positive CSR you can ensure that your company will sail through times of scandals and controversy. As an example take the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh. During the collapse of Rana Plaza factory, companies like Benetton, Primark, Walmart and Mango avoided negative media and potential sale losses thanks to its strong and recurring CSR program.
4. Cost savings
CSR can lead to cost savings. A perfect example of this is General Mills. General Mills introduced, as part of its CSR program, energy monitoring meters. After appraising consumption, it was able to create an action plan that has reduced by $600,000 it’s energy bill at its Covington Ga. plant. Moreover General Mills plans to continue the program and reduce overall consumption by 20% by 2015.
5. Supplier Relations
CSR can act as a supplier and customer magnet. Certain potential partners in business will only engage in business relations with companies with similar corporate culture. For example Apple has stated that it will only develop business relations with those companies that adhere to it’s supplier responsibility program.
These are the why’s of Social Corporate Responsibility. Now it’s time for you to sit and decipher how to best implement your CSR program. Awaiting, GROWTH! To top the cake, Intermarche’s creative initiative, the Inglorious fruits and vegetables. Results? 21 million customers reached, 300% increase of Intermarche mentions in social networks, 24% increase in store traffic. CLICK on Intermarche and enjoy!