Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is something many companies have shifted their focus towards. However, many people wonder whether these campaigns are genuine or just forms of marketing. However, their importance can not be underestimated with regards to making the world a better place to live in. Moreover, CSR campaigns have become even more crucial with increased awareness regarding sustainability and Climate Change. As we become more aware of these issues, taking immediate and long-term action becomes necessary. The seriousness of these issues can be interlinked with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) made in order to promote sustainable practices to efficiently use natural resources. Let us take take a deeper look at what CSR is and why it is important.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable. This accountability is of the company to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. Moreover, CSR is about much bigger than the company itself. It promotes the idea that every little bit counts. As long as we all do our bit, the planet will be a better place not just for us, but for our future generations as well. When operating with CSR, a company not only enhances the environment and society, rather than contributing negatively towards them. Moreover, in such a situation, companies have too be conscious of societal , economical, social, and environmental impacts of their activities.
Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility
As you can imagine, CSR is quite a broad topic. It may even defer from company to company, depending on the industry under question. The first step to social responsibility for any company is accountability to its stakeholders. Hence, every good CSR campaign focuses on making an impact within the community the company operates in. Then, it can slowly and steadily expand its social impact towards the wider communities, making a bigger difference. Also, the more visible and successful a company is, the more responsibility it has to set standards of socially responsibility for its peers, competition, and industry.
Starbucks has long been known for its keen sense of corporate social responsibility and commitment to sustainability and community welfare. According to the company, Starbucks has achieved many of its CSR milestones since it opened its doors. As per its 2019 Global Social Impact Report, these milestones include reaching 99% of ethically sourced coffee, creating a global network of farmers, pioneering green building throughout its stores, contributing millions of hours of community service, and creating a groundbreaking college program for its partner/employees.
The Importance of CSR Campaigns
CSR activities can be beneficial for both the company and the public. For the company, Socially Responsible practices improve brand loyalty and awareness. Moreover, the company’s image in front of the public stays in a positive light. As for employees, socially responsible corporations can empower them to leverage corporate resources at their disposal to do good. This will not only boost their morale but also improve productivity at the workplace. Embracing socially responsible policies goes a long way towards attracting and retaining customers, which is essential to a company’s long-term success. Furthermore, many customers would pay a higher premium if they knew the company’s profits were being used for good. However, is conducting CSR activities for the purpose of brand-building and marketing ethical?
Is it just a marketing Stunt?
It is because of the aforementioned benefits that organisations accrue due to CSR campaigns that people claim them to be marketing or PR stunts. They say that these companies do not really care about being socially responsible, but only do it to market themselves and portray themselves in a positive light. While this may be seen as a cynical point of view, it may be true to an extent. Their argument lies in the fact that the large corporations only care about making money, and any activity they undertake is to feed that very purpose.
Keeping that in mind, is any CSR activity even genuine? How can one differentiate between one that is a PR stunt and one that is for real? The simple answer is that you can’t. We must hope that corporations eventually realise (or have already realised) the danger our planet is in and how important a role they play with their resources in saving it.