The holidays are here! ‘Tis the season of decorations, holiday music, indulging in tasty treats and, of course, giving – and not just for individuals. Businesses are getting in on the holiday spirit as well, and consumers are attracted to brands that stand for something (and are more likely to purchase from a brand that supports a cause.)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an important driving force for many brands, and their loyal consumers. If you haven’t heard the term yet, Business News Daily explains, “CSR is an evolving business practice that incorporates sustainable development into a company’s business model. It has a positive impact on social, economic and environmental factors.” Basically, the brand contributes to the overall betterment of society. How they contribute is up to them, some choose monetary donations, some engage in activism and some volunteer. Often, you’ll see a mix of strategies in a company’s CSR plan.
Engage Your Audience
Consumers are looking for more than just a great product. They want to know that their dollars are going to support something beyond the brand. Brands can boost their reputation by being known as a company that gives back. One example of CSR that has evolved over time is TOMS shoes. TOMS notes that they are the original “One for One” company, donating one pair of shoes for every pair purchased. After 13 years of business and growth, TOMS still donates shoes, but they also have pledged one-third of their net annual profits toward an overall CSR plan that provides grants supporting causes such as physical safety, mental health and equality of opportunity. When consumers buy TOMS shoes, they know they are also supporting these worthwhile causes.
Another incredible facet of CSR is that it engages employees. Going to work knowing your company is making a difference in the world can really spur employee engagement and satisfaction. Sometimes these practices can even directly affect employees. The U.S. is known for its low level of paid maternity and paternity leave, with most mothers taking only 10 to 12 weeks before returning to work. Netflix is blazing a new path, challenging social norms and showing corporations that it is possible to provide parents with a more comprehensive plan. They offer parents of both genders up to 52 weeks of paid time off, with the program extending to both birth and adoption. This practice not only challenges the status quo, but directly contributes to their employees’ benefits package.
CSR is good for your consumers, good for your employees and it’s good for the world as a whole. We are facing intense environmental and social challenges, and brands that take the lead in addressing these concerns will thrive as they help the world survive. According to Forbes, “63 percent of American consumers [are] looking to businesses to take the lead on social and environmental change.” Brands have quite a bit of power, especially when it comes to sustainability decisions such as packaging and sourcing. What seem like small decisions at the corporate level can have a huge impact.
‘Tis the Season
This holiday season, think about your brand’s CSR program. If you don’t have one yet, now is the perfect time to start! If you already have an established CSR program, take this time to evaluate and update your goals and strategy. Brands that positively engage consumers, employees and make a social contribution through CSR will see the benefits – and it’s good for your heart too.