The Move Toward Greater Social Responsibility: Why is CSR Important to Business?

Implementing and communicating about a company’s CSR program can have significant impact and benefit for businesses:

CSR improves public image and consumer interest. Companies that demonstrate their commitment to various causes are perceived as more philanthropic than companies whose CSR endeavors are nonexistent. Because of this, raising awareness of CSR efforts is an essential element to improve a company’s public image. Because millennials are the largest audience when it comes to CSR, a company must find a way to bring CSR efforts to life through storytelling – i.e., what the company is doing to make the world a better place.

According to a recent Nielson survey, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies. It’s no longer a question if consumers care about social impact. Consumers do care, and show it in their actions. By publicizing a company’s efforts and letting the public know about their philanthropy, companies increase their odds of becoming favorable across generations of consumers.

CSR can increase media coverage. It doesn’t matter how much a company is doing in terms of CSR if nobody knows about it, which is why companies – both big and small – must utilize both national and local media. One company that has done an excellent job with media engagement is Walmart, who has garnered both national and local media attention for its CSR efforts.

The core of Walmart’s CSR initiatives focuses around giving back to local communities, whether in terms of food, jobs, or education. Nationally, Walmart has received attention from major news and media outlets on their efforts surrounding military jobs with their “Careers With a Mission” program – a $20 million investment by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to support veterans and their families with assistance from programs that provide job training, transition help, and education. Those efforts were renewed with an additional $20 million through 2019 to support veteran job training, education, and innovative public/private community-based initiatives that address the challenges many veterans face when returning to the civilian workforce. In addition to the national attention, local media around the country has reported on how many jobs Walmart has added in their local community.

CSR boosts employee engagement and attracts top talent. Employees enjoy working for a company that has both a good public image and “does good.” According to Double the Donation, nearly 60% of employees who are proud of their company’s social responsibility are engaged at their jobs. And not only does CSR help with current employees, it also plays a large role in employee attraction and retention – when companies show that they are dedicated to improving their communities through CSR, they are more likely to attract and retain top talent. What a company does to give back has become one of the top questions that candidates are now asking potential employers.

CSR helps to attract and retain investors. CSR used to be a secondary priority for a business, but now investors are seeing the economic impact a CSR program can have. Because CSR has a benefit both from an employee standpoint as well as from a customer standpoint, investors are more likely to put money into a company that has a strong sense of corporate responsibility because the company is showing that they have an interest in the local and global community.

It’s clear that CSR is increasingly an essential component for all companies to consider, not just as an afterthought, but as a core and inseparable component of the overall service or product offering. Creating a narrative and telling the story to communicate to consumers, investors, policymakers, and thought leaders will enhance a company’s reputation and have long-term return on investment.

Going into 2017, take a look at what your company is doing in terms of CSR, think about your company’s story, and ask yourself whether you should be doing more to communicate to your intended audience.

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