06 Jul 2017
82. CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Corporate Social Responsibility isn’t just about giving money to charity or asking staff
to make changes. No organisation operates in isolation - there will be
interaction with employees, stakeholders, customers, supporters and suppliers -
and CSR is about managing these interactions in such a way that the overall
impact on society and/or the environment is a positive one.
ALL OR NOTHING?
Several decades ago, economist Milton Friedman argued that organisations incur costs and lose competitive edge when they up their social performance, but since then many researchers have found the opposite. Benefits such as greater stakeholder trust and better marketing opportunities, they say, outweigh any costs incurred through CSR activities. Recent research finds that it is when CSR initiatives are half-baked that there is a problem. When organisations embark on CSR with gusto, as a long-term commitment that is very much integral to their operations, it's a win-win.
As well as the planned benefits on target charities, community groups or individuals, CSR can also help unleash potential innovation, say some academics. Brian Husted of York University and David Allan at IE Business School surveyed 500 of Spain’s largest firms and pinpointed three approaches to CSR that drive innovation. Companies can differentiate themselves and their offerings through innovative CSR products and processes; build customer and stakeholder awareness of responsible products; and innovate new ways to meet social and environmental legal requirements, industry practice and fiscal incentives.
THE EXTRA MILE
Researchers at the University of Tasmania and Griffith University have identified the necessary conditions for successful proactive CSR, defined as CSR that 'goes the extra mile'. Among these is a shared vision, where everyone in the organisation is focused on a common goal, aiding organisational learning, encouraging creativity and generating the motivation needed to drive change. Also included is good stakeholder management, because by building collaborative relationships with suppliers, customers and investors it can help to eliminate any negative effects generated in the pursuit of competition, such as bad publicity.
RESPONSIBILITY RUBS OFF
Research, such as that by Seoul National University, has found a link between higher ethical standards in organisations and their performance. When employees see their company adhering to higher ethical standards, they become more committed to the organisation, which then rubs off on fellow team-members. These behaviours then lead to an improvement in performance.
WHAT'S GOING ON?
Give as you Live found over half (53%) of workers haven’t done anything charitable in the past year. 44 per cent would like their company to do more, but 40 per cent stated that their company has no official charity it is supporting. A further fifth (22%) are unsure if their company supports charities at all.
EASY DOES IT
It's great to make a big, bold commitment to a CSR initiative, but efforts can also be on a smaller-scale, free and easy. There are now countless ways that organisations and their employees can make a difference day-to-day, from donating toner and ink cartridges through recycle4charity.co.uk to raising funds when making purchases online, as at giveasyoulive.com. Likewise, Storm is an ethical search engine and mobile browser that allows users to raise money for charity when they shop online, without costing them a penny.
GIVE AND TAKE
CSR can be a great way to learn and give at the same time. Trustees Unlimited has launched a programme called Step on Board, which coaches and trains people to become charity trustees so they can contribute to charities in a long term and sustainable way. Charities get access to skilled professionals while organisations get an alternative approach to leadership and development.
A person's willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60 per cent by their perceptions of that organisation and only 40 per cent by their perceptions of its products or services, says a study by Reputation Institute. Its analysis also shows that 41 per cent of how people feel about a company is based on their perceptions of its CSR activities.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
It's one thing to request time or changes from your team towards achieving a CSR goal or plan, but great managers lead by example. Many LMA members commit to participating in charitable events or challenges every year, and the efforts of individuals can make a huge difference and inspire others.