Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is something that was relatively overlooked in years past. However, just a few weeks into 2016, it appears that CSR initiatives are finally taking off across all industries. Even more impressive is that it’s not just Fortune 500 companies that are investing in CSR. Many small businesses are doing so, as well.
The Importance of CSR Initiatives
The funny thing about CSR is that businesses get really antsy talking about it. For some reason, there’s something uncomfortable about doing good and simultaneously feeling good about – or benefitting from – doing that something good. Make sense?
It’s like helping a stray dog cross the highway so it can find its way back home. While helping the dog is a good act, does it make the act any less admirable if the person benefits from helping the dog across the street? For example, being featured on the local news.
CSR initiatives are profitable and high returning, but businesses have to overcome their fear of the unknown. “Asking if there is business value to a corporate responsibility or sustainability strategy is the wrong question,” David Jerome and Rob Kleinbaum write in an article for GreenBiz.
“No one would ask if marketing strategy has business value; sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on its quality,” they continue. “The more relevant question is: What does your company need to do to ensure its CR strategy creates business value?”
3 Companies With Strong CSR Strategies
Well, in order to understand value maximization in terms of CSR strategies, it’s helpful to look at some successful examples. Here are a few that stand out:
1. Kenney Machinery
A great example of how you don’t have to be a multi-billion dollar brand to invest in CSR is Kenny Machinery, an Indianapolis-based Toro turf equipment distributor that’s been around since 1914. This year, Kenny Machinery is partnering with the nonprofit, TrueU, to help its own employees get involved with charitable service in both local communities and impoverished countries.
The program has already produced significant change in Ensenada, Mexico, and the Haitian town of Plaisance, St. Michaels. And while the positive changes these projects have produced for these communities is most important, it’s clear to see that Kenney Machinery’s commitment to CSR has strengthened internal operations and branding exposure.
NuSkin, a personal skin care and nutrition company, has always focused on helping communities around the world. Their flagship CSR initiative, called Nourish the Children, was launched in 2002 and allows company employees and customers to donate nutrient-rich meals to children in need. NuSkin has donated well over 450 million meals and is becoming known in the industry as a responsible brand with ethical principles.
While small businesses are doing their part, it’s always wonderful to see massive global brands take part in CSR as well – and there’s no bigger brand than Google. The search engine giant is regularly recognized as the company with the best CSR reputation in the world.
Google’s commitment to CSR is both wide and deep. Not only do they raise funds for relevant social issues – including the recent international migrant crisis – but Google has also been carbon neutral since 2007, continually invests in energy-reduction programs, and is funding $2 billion in future renewable energy projects.
Make CSR a Priority in 2016
You don’t need an endless pit of resources to invest in CSR. With a commitment to caring for those around you, and a little bit of sacrifice, your business can make CSR a priority in 2016. Use these examples as a framework and develop a strategy that meets the needs of your local community or satisfies some pain point society is experiencing.