Creating Corporate Social Responsibility Goals for Business Growth

Consumers today are increasingly interested in corporate social responsibility. Put plainly, people want to do business with a company that shares their values.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, describes companies’ efforts to operate in an ethical and environmentally responsible way. These companies are conscious of their impact on work conditions and affiliations with political groups, and they take steps to support or promote social, environmental, or charitable causes.

You’ll often see it with larger corporations, but that doesn’t mean a small shop can’t be socially responsible, too.

Choosing social responsibility

Most businesses stress the importance of social responsibility in one focused area, although that’s not always the case.

Typically, you’ll recognize a business for:

  • Environmental efforts

  • Philanthropy

  • Ethical labor practices

  • Community support or volunteerism

Putting CSR to work

Corporate responsibility can look different depending on the company.

You might know outdoor retailer Patagonia for their stance on environmental issues. But the company’s social responsibility also extends to fair labor practices in the supply chain.

This kind of behind-the-scenes corporate responsibility is gaining traction, according to Forbes, with more than 500 American companies signing the UN Global Compact, which “sets standards for members to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.”

Many companies showcase corporate responsibility as a core value:

  • Toms donates a pair of shoes for every pair bought. Their “one for one” business model is well-known.

  • Bombas socks follows the same model, by donating a pair of socks for each one sold.

  • Salesforce uses a 1-1-1 model: one percent of the company’s equity is set aside for community grants, one percent of the company’s product is donated to nonprofits, and one percent of each employee’s time is dedicated to giving back.

  • Ben & Jerry’s devotes 7.5 percent of annual pre-tax profits to philanthropic efforts.

  • Virgin Atlantic has been working to reduce emissions and develop low-carbon fuels as part of its CSR environmental pillar. They also focus on community investment and sustainable design and buying.

Integrating business practices and goals

Corporate social responsibility can also affect the bottom line.

According to McKinsey & Company, there is a business case for CSR. They note three principles for integrating a successful CSR strategy into your business:

  • Concentrate CSR efforts on an area you specialize in or are familiar with.

  • Partner with others that can benefit your cause.

  • Cultivate an understanding of benefits so that your customers know what your CSR strategy is and why it is important.

Ultimately, the key is alignment with stakeholders and business goals.

Showing social responsibility

If social responsibility is part of your business strategy, show it. Not only are you doing good, but it can also be good for your business.

Here are a few strategies to help a business of any size get started:

  • Create a page on your website that tells your CSR story.

  • Incorporate social responsibility messaging into your tagline or logo.

  • Add a payment or PayPal button that lets website visitors donate to your cause.

  • Share information about your cause on business channels, including your website and social media. (Add buttons to your website so visitors can share, too!)

  • Blog about events and work your business or employees have done to support your social cause.

Engaging with CSR

Although the most visible examples of corporate social responsibility come from big companies, a business of any size can benefit from this model. As more customers want to interact and do business with those that have shared values, you may find it can further engage your base.

The importance of corporate social responsibility is on all of us. It starts with companies and works because people choose to do business with them.

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