In reality, these activities are more than "doing good." They are unique ways to market your brand and improve operations. CSR can help a business succeed. These activities influence all business interactions with the environment and its stakeholders -> its community.
From this, let's define CSR as the impacts a business has on its community. Thus, every business performs CSR functions in some capacity. The overall goal is to have the business succeed and use CSR to minimize negative impacts on the community and increase the positive.
Today, many large corporations are able to have a full-time CSR Director who can set proper goals, design projects, and obtain new resources. For small and mid-size businesses, it is very difficult to designate a staff person's time or other resources from core operations. However, small and mid-size businesses can utilize CSR by incorporating existing practices, being creative, and leveraging resources properly.
Just like big businesses, small and mid-size organizations need to incorporate CSR goals into their overall strategy. By doing so, CSR efforts will work better in a company's favor and give greater returns.
All organizations who implement CSR practices with greater purpose will see five returns:
- Deeper relationships with existing customers and attraction of new customers. By interacting with the community and promoting responsibility practices, customers are more willing to purchase their products. Research has proven customers desire and are more willing to purchase a product or service from an organization that promotes its CSR activities.
- Reduced turnover and recruitment of passionate employees. Businesses lose many employees and have disengaged employees. This is costly to a business and efficiencies are lessened. By creating a volunteer program for employees and supporting it with incentives can increase engagement, retain employees, and gain an advantage to recruiting top talent. Many employees, especially amongst the Millennial Generation, believe their work needs to make a positive effect on the world.
- Cost reduction through internal operation improvements. Purchasing new equipment that is more efficient and environmental-friendly can reuse wastes or energy. Working with specialized labor forces like veterans, ex-convicts, or people with disabilities can also gain businesses tax credits.
- Acquirement of a competitive advantage. The three previous returns either generate more revenues or decrease costs, but CSR practices can also be a differentiator amongst competitors. For example, the craft brewing industry in Colorado at this time has around 240 breweries with another 120 on the way. With so many, differentiation can help at this point in the industry's life cycle for both new and old breweries as an area for growth. Using CSR as a differentiator can add a whole new customer base and increase penetration to the overall market.
- Acknowledgment as a positive corporate citizen and reliable community member. As an organization in a community, businesses are looked upon as leaders. They provide jobs, and stimulate the local economy. To gain community trust and become a leader, support events, champion causes, and serve the environment well will help the area and your business thrive for many years.
No matter the size of the business, CSR is included. Leverage it properly to make it a powerful business function and make a positive difference.
About the Author
Brian Phipps is the Founder and a Strategist at Confluence in Denver, Colorado that consults small and mid-size businesses to increase their positive impacts and community connections in their corporate giving and social responsibility practices. To find out more go to www.ConfluenceLLC.com.