Today, you can have the impression that most companies in the market, no matter the size or industry in which they operate, invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – or at least in CSR strategies and communication.
Corporate Social Responsibility became a mainstream by misuse rather than standard by expertise. The way some companies communicate regarding their participation in social, societal, or environmental activities is either incomplete or misleading.
Branding tools, creative ads, emotional music, and catchy phrases can drive the most aware customer in taking wrong purchasing decisions. For example, did you know that a mention of ‘organic’ mention does not mean that the harvest is pesticide free? Or that the ‘cruelty-free’ claim does not guarantee that the product has not been tested on animals?
In this article, I am going to briefly describe three different types of CSR strategies:
1. The one driven by communication
A focus on CSR communication is the tip of the iceberg and cannot be truly sustainable or authentic if only based on external communication and short-term goals.
In this particular case, for stronger communication and to appeal to the viewer, objectives and KPIs should be defined to:
- assess the success of the programs in place
- communicate the results with their audience
Defined objectives are an instrument for internal motivation and proof of external success. Campaigns will bring emotional appeal, but when backed up with data it acts as a knowledge giver.
This results in building trust with the audience – the consumers. Communication can be powered by what social media does best – access to information. A robust CSR implementation and transparent communication influence consumers to make the right choice.
2. The one driven by speed
Enthusiasm at work and anticipation of demands are drivers of success in a workplace. However, if these traits are linked with a desire for immediate impact, then risks of failure can emerge. If a company has the right intention but is motivated by a short term CSR strategy, the budgets allocated for CSR initiatives keeps increasing without:
- high impact on stakeholders
- sustained return on the business
In this case, long-term CSR strategies that support the business direction are crucial. Designing programs with the participation of key stakeholders will result in the creation of much-needed initiatives for targeted beneficiaries.
3. The one driven by impact
These companies understand that small-scale programs will not bring a sustainable impact. They recognise what it takes to build long-term partnerships and stand out with concrete CSR commitments backed up with measurable programs and transparent communication.
There are a number of initiatives that they undertake, such as:
- Give back to the stakeholder or resource that is mostly used by the company’s activities.
- Commit to a cause with a measurable target (quantified with timeline).
- Conduct social impact analysis to assess the success of their programs.
- Associate CSR strategies in their business plans.
- Involve employees in the design and implementation of their initiatives.
- Communicate transparently their CSR achievement compared to their planned objective.
- Share the progress of their promised actions to key stakeholders
As an organisation, your interest in CSR is growing. Similarly, as a consumer, your awareness of CSR strategies is extending. Individuals lay the foundations of one company, so collectively what innovative change do you want to work towards? What impact do you want to leave in this world?