In the last 18 months, we’ve seen businesses respond very differently to the current crisis. Some instantly made the effort to look after their staff during this period, while others fell short. In the months since the first lockdown, the differences between some of the leading UK brands have become increasingly stark.
Now more than ever, there is a need for corporate social responsibility (CSR). While it was a token gesture, a ‘nice to have’, before, it’s something that can really make a difference after the year we’ve had.
But what is it? And why is it something businesses could focus on as the country opens up once more?
What is CSR?
CSR is something that many businesses have adopted in recent years. It is, in simple terms, how a business is socially accountable. This accountability is to its staff, its stakeholders, clients, and the customers or consumers who use the business.
Social responsibility typically involves initiatives that contribute towards economic, environmental, and community-based development. The aim is for these initiatives to have a positive impact on society at large as well as the business itself.
It’s not currently mandatory for businesses to be socially responsible, however there is debate around this. Laws have been introduced in countries around the world that explicitly incorporate CSR as a standard. As time goes on, it may become the norm for businesses to be socially responsible.
Why is CSR important?
There are several reasons why CSR is a worthwhile addition to businesses. Here are some of them:
- Improve your reputation
Whether you’re trying to introduce fresh talent as your business reopens or you’re trying to attract customers and clients to your business, having a CSR focus at your organisation can go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals.
Prospective employees will often check to see what CSR strategy is in place as this reveals a company to be compassionate towards both its staff and the community it operates in. Similarly, customers are spoilt for choice. But if they can see that your business has a reputation for giving back, they might be swayed to come to you over your competitors.
- Attract investment
If a business is socially responsible, it’s proving that it can balance the books while also finding the funds to help the community it operates in. This apparent financial stability is a good sign for potential investors as they can see that the business is healthy.
- Engage with a wider audience
CSR gives businesses access to more contacts in the community. This, in turn, helps the business to engage with more potential customers. These new avenues of communication mean that you can get feedback from customers and potential customers, which, in turn, can help you enhance your offering.
How are businesses doing?
There are plenty of businesses that have had a CSR strategy in place for a while. Back in 2015, Google was consistently ranking for corporate responsibility, while Microsoft’s carbon neutral goals have seen the computer giant shoot to the top of the list for its CSR in 2021. Ultimately, the strategy needs to adapt to the current state of play, and the environment and climate change is a huge factor right now.
There are plenty of other brands that have added CSR to the top of the priority list. Damart – the fashion retailer that specialises in women’s trousers, shorts, skirts, and tops – has joined the Fashion Pact. This is a pact between some of the most well-known fashion names and pushes for stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity, and protecting the oceans – all factors that the world of fashion has impacted upon over time.
For businesses to thrive after the events of the last year, and to make a real difference to the world they operate in, it’s worth introducing a CSR strategy and implementing it.