What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR):
Initiatives by a corporation or business to take responsibility for its effects on the environment and social well being, often beyond regulations or environmental protection groups. This can include taking on short-term costs that do not provide immediate value but promote positive social and environmental change (“corporate citizenship”) Investopedia.
After decades and centuries of people and big businesses affecting their surroundings in many ways to produce their products, over time we have become more aware of ourselves, and any big business that wants to stick around for the long term must maintain higher values, following Google’s first slogan “don’t be evil” (recently changed to “do the right thing”). If your business moves into a poor neighborhood, offer to build things they could benefit from, like a school or hospital. If your projects will cause environmental damage, begin immediately investing in sustainable technology. Never try to cut corners, or “promote” sustainability when you’re actually operating in exactly the opposite way (called “greenwashing”).
As a business, you may consider investing in your local communities to build a positive image of yourself. If you’re large enough to have some influence on your community’s growth, this can be used to pressure more ethical treatment of the area or local people. One example given by Investopedia talks about when Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. Many influential leaders refused to attend Atlanta’s celebratory dinner until of course, Coca Cola’s CEO threatened to move his business out of the city.
The obvious and simplest move to start out would be to, as a business, donate to charity. Charitable contributions can be beneficial in many ways, from the charitable donation tax credit for corporations, the improved image in your local neighborhood, and your overall image as a company.
Benefits of charitable corporate donations
(that is, tax-deductible donations – a business benefit in itself):
Improving your community
Local involvement is a great place to start, especially for a small business. Sponsor a sports team, donate supplies to a school in need, or volunteer time improving a park people like or even a homeless shelter.
Boost employee morale
Ask your valued workers what charities they support. This will bring some excitement to proposed projects and increase their respect for you as a leader who cares and wants to make positive changes.
For some free marketing, offer them volunteer t-shirts with your logo!
Building your brand reputation
When people see local businesses helping out, they’re more likely to want to support that business when the chance presents itself, which will put you a step ahead of your local (and maybe even your national) competition. This also makes your company an attractive place to work!
Networking with community leaders
Building relationships are always valuable for individuals and businesses alike. Many new doors can be opened this way.
You can’t expect to see a return on all of this giving immediately, but being open to doing good things and genuinely wanting to help out will bring about so many opportunities you won’t know what to do with them. That’s why having a line of credit set up and ready for those moments is a great step in preparing your company for better things ahead of you! Have questions about this? Contact WCM and we’ll be glad to answer!