Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not just a marketing tool that will help a company grow, get exposure and attract new customers. It is not a plug-and-play model. We at Development3 see it as an integral and purpose-driven cog that changes the organizational fabric of a company for the better.
In some cases, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Market Companies (MMCs) believe cause marketing is CSR. Cause marketing in its simplest form, is a tool that sits under the CSR umbrella, which brings attention to the relationship between a for-profit and a non-profit. From the philanthropy perspective it could be:
“We donated to $X to nonprofit Y.”
The aim being to create a mutually beneficial opportunity for two parties. For a company, this is a way to grab customers’ attention, while the nonprofit benefits both monetarily and through the buzz created.
This is a good way for a SMEs and MMCs to test the CSR waters. However, cause-marketing is not a substitute for integrating social responsibility. It generates impact and brings visibility to activities but it cannot be a company’s sole strategy. Mid-market companies should focus on what their vision and objectives are, and find socially responsible endeavors that best align with them. Be it integrating ethical labor practices, addressing consumer demands and issues or creating an employee engagement program – there are numerous core subjects that can tie in with a company’s objectives and governance.
Upon selecting the most relevant strand(s) of CSR, absolute commitment from all stakeholders is essential. Entering a new space can be daunting, but everyone must be on board. Once the initiatives are up and running, they need to be tweaked to ensure they fit purpose and are on track to achieving their goals. The initial aim is to build internal practices that:
- Improve employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction
- Strengthen stakeholder engagement and relations
- Actualize cost-savings associated with increased productivity and resource efficiency
- Create value-driven policies and procedures
- Foster a return on investment and achieve value for money
A by-product of implementing successful CSR initiatives is visibility, press, accolades – marketing. When you have your house in order, it makes it easier to communicate your efforts. This is when a mid-market company achieves the growth, exposure and attracts new customers that they long for. The long-term investment outweighs the stopgap, one time only “look at us” measure. By taking the long option, a mid-market company can create a social responsibility legacy that enhances its reputation, fosters innovation and positions itself as one that’s here to stay.
If you run or work for an SME or MMC and would like to learn more about how you can integrate social responsibility, get in touch! Development3 specializes in supporting companies from around the world with building their social responsibility legacies. We use international standards (ISOs) as anchors for defining, building and implementing social responsibility.
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