How Do You Develop a Great CSR Program?
11 March 2015 at 8:24 am
Corporate Social Responsibility can become a source of tremendous social progress also works to boost the profile and reputation of the company that chooses the right social problem to champion and alleviate, writes CSR strategist Dora Nikols.
Michael E. Porter, who is globally recognised as the leading authority on competitive strategy at the Harvard Business School, has often said that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is increasingly important to competitive success.
Porter also believes that CSR is so disconnected from business and strategy that it is often not beneficial for corporate success or for society.
He believes that if corporations looked at social responsibility using the same frameworks that guide their core business choices they would discover that CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed—it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.
When looked at strategically, Corporate Social Responsibility can become a source of tremendous social progress, as the business applies its considerable resources, expertise, and insights to activities that benefit society. It also works to boost the profile and reputation of the company that chooses the right social problem to champion and alleviate.
After you have taken the time to select a social issue that fits into your business objectives, making sure you use the below criteria:
- Choose only a few social issues to support
- Choose those that are of concern in the communities where you do business
- Choose issues that have synergy with your mission, values, products and services
- Choose issues that have potential to support business goals: marketing, supplier relations, increased productivity, cost reductions
- Choose issues that your employees, target markets, customers and investors care about
- Choose issues that can be supported over a long time
Then it’s time to put your CSR program together using the six corporate social initiatives:
1. Corporate Sponsorships:
This involves supporting social issues through promotional sponsorships to increase awareness and concern about a social cause. If you are a consumer product concerned about the environment then sponsoring ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ is a great option.
2. Cause-related Marketing:
This involves donating a percentage of revenues to a specific causes based on product sales. Aussie Wipes is a great example offering a percentage of sales to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
3. Corporate Social Marketing:
This is where a company supports a behavior change campaign. This time nappy brand Pampers has partnered with the SIDS Foundation to encourage parents to put infants on their backs to sleep, which is a very relevant issues related to their product.
4. Corporate Philanthropy:
This involves making a direct contribution to a charity, most often in the form of a cash grant, donation and/or in-kind service. An example of this includes financial corporation PwC Australia offering in-kind donations to The Smith Family who supports disadvantaged children with their education.
5. Community Volunteering:
This is when companies support and encourage employees to volunteer their time to support local community causes. This includes Shell employees working with The Ocean Conservation on a beach cleanup.
6. Socially Responsible Business Practices:
This involves a company adopting business practices and investments that support social causes and initiatives to protect the environment. This could be Kraft deciding to eliminate all in-school marketing or Starbucks working with Conservation International to support farmers to minimize the impact on their local environment.
If CSR is to be strategic and fit into your business goals and strategy then it is important that your chosen charity/cause be supported by each of these six initiatives. One company that does a great job supporting its chosen cause – Environmental Awareness – is Dell.
Here’s how that company supports the environment through each of the CSR initiatives:
Corporate sponsorship – Dell supports the environment by collecting used computers for donation to local non profits
Cause-related marketing – Dell offers 10 percent off selected new products when up to three used products are recycled online
Corporate Social Marketing – Dell offers free return of used printers for recycling and helps raise awareness for e-waste
Corporate Philanthropy – Dell has a direct giving program with employees where donations are made to Earth Share
Community Volunteering – Dell employees around the globe participate in ‘Global Community Involvement Week’ each September with park clean ups
Socially Responsible Business Practices – Dell creates product design programs with specific environmental guidelines, policies and goals
About the author: Dora Nikols is the principle at Prickly Pear PR, a PR agency that specialises in Corporate Social Responsibility by helping companies strategically support and promote the issues they care about to create meaningful PR and social media awareness. Follow her on Twitter @DoraNikols or send email firstname.lastname@example.org.