Corporate Social Responsibility: What is it and why does it matter?

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, more and more corporations are vamping up their social responsibility efforts, and more and more individuals are choosing to shop, eat, and work at companies that have a strong tie to community efforts.

So what is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? 

Nicole Fallon, contributor to Business News Daily breaks it down for us. “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society. Liz Maw, CEO of nonprofit organization Net Impact, noted that CSR is becoming more mainstream as forward-thinking companies embed sustainability into the core of their business operations to create shared value for business and society.”

CSR can take many forms; it might be monetary, volunteer time, advocacy, or sustainability efforts that a company is making. It can come from a large corporation, small local businesses, or a social venture who’s core mission is community based. Some businesses engage in one or the other, some engage in all aspects. Here are a few ways we see businesses giving back.

  • Donations/Advocacy- For-profit companies make money, so why not put some of that back into the community you live in? Companies all over the world are donating locally, nationally or globally, towards causes that resonate with their company’s vision. You see Wells Fargo supporting financial literacy education, Disney engaging youth and young leaders, Microsoft working towards computer science education, and countless others. They are not only giving away their money and encouraging employees to do the same, they are also getting the word out and standing behind causes they believe in. Hanes is an advocate for the homeless, Nike supports Planned Parenthood, and Avon speaks out on violence against women.
  • Volunteering- Many corporations have very strong employee volunteer time contributions. That may mean that they give paid time off to employees to volunteer on their own, or host team volunteer days for the company. Xerox scientists participate in youth consulting, U.S Bank does weekly employee volunteering, Deloitte offers PTO to volunteer, etc. 
  • Sustainability- Businesses are watching their carbon footprint, and going green. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, Marriott is reducing consumption and building LEED hotels, Intuit reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and that is just the start.

Engaging in CSR is a win-win for corporations and for the non-profits and causes they support. Nonprofits get grant funding, volunteer hands, and exposure to millions of people through the CSR efforts worldwide. They receive funding through company donations, matching programs, and employee donations. Not to mention, they are given the opportunity to get thousands of long-term donors by engaging first with their employers. Agencies are also receiving potential skill-based volunteers to move closer to their mission. Nonprofits and the communities they serve can drastically benefit from a company having a strong CSR program.

Businesses with STRONG CSR initiatives are given the chance to use their power for social good. Through it they grow a positive public image, grow their consumers/constituents, and create a positive work environment for their employees. People want to see positive change in their communities, and they are willing to support businesses who make that happen. It makes them look good in the eyes of others, and is worth more than just a regular ol’ marketing campaign. It’s simple, employees like working for companies who are doing awesome things, and who are highly regarded in their communities, so give them something to be excited about and make them want to talk about the values of the company they work for.

CSR. Do it.