What is CSR and Why Does it Matter?
Expectations have evolved. Customers, members, investors, suppliers, communities, governments and the general public not only expect, but also now demand increased social responsibility and self-regulation. They want to know that the corporations and organizations they do business with have brands and cultures that contribute positively to the world around them.
On the most basic level, CSR is the essence of being a good corporate citizen. It is how a company interacts with its customers, the public and the world, and more specifically, how a company meets or exceeds its ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations and obligations.
The Role of CSR Storytelling in Brand & Reputation Management
Just like a good novel, a compelling corporate social responsibility (CSR) story can resonate with your company’s customers and improve both brand and reputation. A successful CSR story is derived from a compelling CSR program that has transformed a company’s ideals and values into real and measurable outcomes.
Identifying the Need for Corporate Social Responsibility - A Checklist Planning Guide
Does your industry or business operating environment present a public issues challenge or even a perception of one? If one or more of the items in this checklist planning guide applies to your industry or business, you may have a public issues challenge now or in the future.
At OTM Partners, we have over 20 years of experience in the development and management of nationally branded communications programs with a specialization in social responsibility campaigns. Let us help you develop an innovative program that will produce long-term positive outcomes.
Five Key Features of an Effective Public Awareness Campaign
Careful planning is critical when tackling tough issues and creating successful public awareness campaigns. To be truly effective, these campaigns cannot be a quick and simple media splash; instead, they must be treated as far-reaching, strategic efforts with multiple layered components. These components can include everything from messaging, outreach and social and traditional media relations to influencer recruitment, government affairs and calls to action. When orchestrated correctly, these campaigns can inspire target audiences to fight for a cause and can help turn the tide on public issues challenges.
As with any communications effort, public awareness campaigns should be fully developed - with every component anchored by sound reason and clear intent. The messaging should constitute a blend of statistical and anecdotal evidence to engage the audience on both an emotional and intellectual level, and the goals and motivations of the target audience should always be incorporated into messaging points.
Five Tenets of a Successful and Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility Program
A well-designed and implemented Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy is clearly aligned with your company’s mission, vision, organizational values and culture. It has top-down and cross-functional support, and it contributes to your quadruple bottom line (people, planet, profit and purpose). An effective CSR program is sustainable and creates business value by increasing your customer base, enhancing your corporate reputation, boosting employee engagement and delivering results in long-term financial gain.
Often, public issues challenges can be addressed through an effective CSR program. The first step in implementing such a program is thinking strategically about the issue or cause you will tackle and conducting an honest assessment of your business; your operating environment; the public’s perception of who you are and what you do; the government’s level of interest in your business and issues important to you; and the media’s perception and portrayal of your business; and the priorities you are pursuing. All of these will be critical factors as you plan and implement your CSR efforts.
The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility Programs: Four Ways CSR Programs Can Have a Positive Impact on Your Bottom Line
Over the past decade, our free market has evolved in both its structure and function. Today, customers, employees, investors, suppliers, communities, governments and the general public not only expect, but also demand increased social responsibility and self-regulation. They want to know that the corporations and organizations they do business with have brands and cultures that contribute to the world around them.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a long-term investment and a tool that can enhance the bottom line. It is rapidly becoming an essential business practice, and it needs to be a part of the strategic plan of every business and organization. More and more executives are recognizing this and are implementing CSR programs.
When analyzing your potential return on investment for a CSR program, it is important to evaluate your quadruple bottom line (people, planet, profit and purpose). An effective CSR program creates business value and a positive ROI by expanding the customer base, enhancing corporate reputation, boosting employee engagement and delivering results in long-term financial gain. When these benefits exceed the cost of engaging in the campaign or program, it makes the case for why CSR is a sound business practice.
Six Pillars of a Top-Down Supported CSR Program
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the essence of being a good corporate citizen. It is how a company interacts with its customers, the public and the world. More specifically, CSR is how a company meets or exceeds its ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations and obligations.
To be truly effective and sustainable over the long term, a CSR program must have top-down support and accountability safeguards. Whether a business or organization is large or small, having this support at the outset is essential. It is equally as important that this support is maintained and integrated into the overall operating model once the strategic planning process and program launch are complete. Without this continued leadership, it becomes nearly impossible for a business or organization to establish itself as a socially conscious force for change.
Increasing Employee Engagement: CSR Programs that Soar
Effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programming is not just directed outward, making positive change in the world; it also points inward, attracting new talent and allowing them to harness their passions. It results in a sense of employee pride and purpose. Fully integrated, top-down supported CSR programs strengthen employee engagement and improve workplace morale. When CSR is done right, everyone — companies, employees and the world—stand to benefit.
Expectations have evolved. Potential employees want to know that the place they work has a brand and culture that contributes positively to the world around them. Employees want their work to be meaningful. Not content to take a paycheck and go home, top employees increasingly demand to see the impact of their work on the world around them.
Starbucks, Chipotle, Patagonia, Whole Foods and Zappos are all companies that have built their brands in large part by doing good. And long-established corporations such as General Electric, Intel, Disney, McDonalds are also increasingly recognized as both corporate leaders, but also as companies that are also equally concerned with doing social good.
But is corporate social responsibility, or CSR, solely the purview of corporations? What about small businesses? Can a small business like convenience stores aspire to the same level of corporate social responsibility and tackle global issues like the environment, and can they overcome the seeming little leverage they have to affect their own product sourcing practices? Due to their size, they may seem like unlikely candidates for CSR.
Look in the Mirror and Ask These Questions: Your Corporate Social Responsibility Can Impact the Answers
No business today operates in a vacuum.
If there's one thing that's truer today than ever before, it's that every industry and business has a growing list of stakeholders interested and engaged in how they operate.
Quite simply, people want to know how you positively or negatively impact society, and in many cases, how you impact the world. And what's the common theme of that growing interest?
One word: Responsibility
3 Ways to Build Corporate Social Responsibility Programs (Business Journals - May 31, 2016)
The most impactful and sustainable corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are informed by a company’s mission and values — and are designed to deliver meaningful and measurable outcomes.
A compelling CSR program can improve brand and reputation, plus it will resonate with your customers.
Bringing CSR to Life: Fair Trade Matters
By Read deButts
By Read deButts, President, OTM Partners
May 5, 2017 - On its most basic level, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the essence of being a good corporate citizen. It is reflective of how companies interact with their customers, the public, and the world. More specifically, it is about how they meet or exceed their ethical, legal, commercial, and public expectations/obligations.
The Fair Trade industry brings CSR to life. Fair Trade is a movement aimed at achieving better trading conditions, promoting safer working standards, encouraging environmental conservation, enabling supply-chain transparency, and empowering developing communities around the world to build strong, thriving businesses. In order to receive Fair Trade certification, artisans and farmers are carefully trained in sustainable farming methods, environmentally friendly production habits, and encouraged to engage in community outreach and education programs.
For companies, selling products that are ethically sourced or support a cause has become a necessity in the 21st century. A 2017 Unilever study shows that one-third of all consumers choose to buy from brands they believe are doing social/environmental good. Furthermore, the Fair Trade industry isn’t a fringe or niche market; it is steadily growing and, in 2015, Fair Trade products netted over $1 billion in total revenue. Big-name brands like Patagonia and West Elm are two examples of several hundred companies that have already realized the value in supporting Fair Trade and have begun promoting their commitment.
I first began to grasp the impact Fair Trade has on people and communities around the world after my wife opened Trade Roots—a Fair Trade retail business. We started to travel to developing countries all across the globe to meet artisans and see the direct impact Fair Trade has on communities that empower women, improve educational opportunities, and promote sustainable livelihoods.
In the last few years, I’ve had the good fortune to see artisan communities in places like Rwanda, Nepal, India, Guatemala and more. Whether it’s visiting Rwanda’s Cards From Africa or Hand Spun Hope—the on-the-ground impact socially conscious American consumers have is abundantly clear. At Hand Spun Hope, for example, a post-genocide widowed women’s group that knits and sells various hand-spun wool products, I watched as more than 50 women handcrafted the very same unique products I’d seen on the shelves at Trade Roots. Founded to help women learn a skill and earn money to improve their lives and the lives of their families, the work done by Hand Spun Hope has transformed into the pride of the community for these formerly ostracized women.
In my travels, I’ve seen how consumers react to Fair Trade products and how they feel about supporting artisan communities around the world; and after visiting those artisans, I’ve come to realize how valuable an asset the Fair Trade movement is to CSR initiatives and consumers alike. Fair Trade not only uplifts global communities and causes, but also it often helps maintain a way of life for indigenous populations.
Fair Trade continues to pioneer new social causes, invent novel products, and re-define globalization: vowing to serve the international community with no-strings-attached. And in keeping with OTMs commitment to strong CSR principles, we hold steadfast in our belief that the Fair Trade movement offers significant value to companies and consumers. We believe that an ever-increasing number of companies will come to understand the value and importance of Fair Trade. We are hopeful that we can play a small part in getting the message out to CSR driven companies, all while advancing Fair Trade principles in dynamic, innovative, and economical ways.