Now more than ever, corporate social responsibility (CSR for brevity) is a crucial topic that companies and businesses need to discuss—not only because they wish to reach a broader market but also because of their desire to give back. Apart from altruism and a commitment to specific advocacy, CSR enables companies—whether big or small—to think beyond their profits and revenue. More importantly, it allows them to effect a change.
Contrary to what some people believe, CSR is not just a gimmicky trend that brands and companies venture into in the hopes of garnering a bigger market pool. Today, we can finally bid adieu to the days wherein social impact was reserved only for nonprofit organizations and volunteers as more and more companies are becoming more socially responsible. Modern consumers think beyond the purchase they are making and would look into whether the company they are buying from is worth their patronage.
As more consumers have become concerned with environmental and social issues, more companies have heeded the call and addressed these issues by joining the fight and developing initiatives for sustainable capitalism. However, this begs the question: What is a socially responsible company?
Socially responsible companies think beyond just lining their pockets with profit. They know that they are at a unique advantage and would use their position as well as resources in making a positive social or environmental impact. The business model of a socially responsible company is different in such a way that it focuses on social change while sharing its success with the local or global community that they serve.
While socially responsible companies are still concerned about making a profit, they completely embrace the position that they are in and take on the responsibility of making a more positive impact on the community they are benefitting from. Consequently, a socially responsible company sees its responsibility as an obligation and would incorporate different initiatives that would redound to the betterment of the community they serve.
That said, socially responsible companies would then take steps to ensure that their business is effecting a change either on environmental or social issues. Their advocacy can then take form in the partnership of nonprofit organizations and/or take steps to ensure that their business operates on a sustainable scale.
An example of this is brands and companies that partner with organizations that strive to make a change in the environment, such as RAFI One to Tree. RAFI One to Tree is a nonprofit organization born out of the goal to minimize the effects of harmful practices on our environment and revive biodiversity in the country. The organization continuously partners with companies and communities that advocate for growing native trees for a more sustainable future.
RAFI One to Tree is just one example of the myriad of nonprofit organizations that companies, brands, and businesses can partner with. To better identify how a socially responsible company looks, below is a list of companies and brands doing corporate social responsibility right.
One of the ways to make a significantly positive change is to support and patronize socially responsible businesses. After all, the responsibility for the world does not solely fall on the shoulders of brands and companies—it is also on us as consumers. That said, we need to be a little meticulous about the kind of impact companies are making on the world. While our support for these companies may seem insignificant, it can have a pretty incredible impact collectively—especially if we are keen on spending our hard-earned money on companies that practice corporate social responsibility right.
Below is a list of socially responsible companies that are doing it right:
As the world’s leading soda brand, it is inevitable for Coca-Cola to have a massive fleet of delivery trucks to complete its supply chain. Unfortunately, these same delivery trucks contributed about 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the world. As a result, Coca-Cola has made a significant change to its supply chain practice to reduce its environmental impact. One of the changes they made is to invest in a new alternatively fueled fleet of trucks which they intended to create a 25% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2020.
From a social standpoint, Netflix and Spotify are companies that offer good benefits to support their employees and their families. To ensure that their employees have a more active role and hands-on experience in child-rearing, Netflix offers 52 weeks of paid parental leave, which can be taken at any time to suit the parents’ needs. In a similar fashion, Spotify offers a similar program for a shorter duration of 24 weeks of paid leave. To compare, other companies only allocate 18 weeks for their employees.
TOMS is one of the companies that came up with socially responsible initiatives since their company’s inception. Since then, TOMS has advocated for the one-for-one movement, which is to donate a pair of shoes for EVERY pair that they sell. As a result, TOMS has donated over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. Moreover, part of their profits is used to assist visually impaired individuals by providing medical treatments and prescription glasses. Similarly, TOMS also provides safe drinking water and builds businesses in developing countries to create more jobs. TOMS is also an organization of strong anti-bullying advocates. That said, they work and partner with several non-governmental organizations and nonprofits to set an example of ethical behavior.
Starbucks has a keen eye for hiring and looks for ways to diversify its workforce. In fact, one of the company’s objectives is to hire 25,000 veterans by 2025 as part of its socially responsible endeavor. Similarly, the company’s hiring initiative also looks to employ more young people to help these individuals jump-start their careers by giving them their first job.
Committed to making a positive environmental impact, Bosch has dedicated half of its research and development budget to creating environmental protection technology. By the end of this year, the company will have invested fifty million euros in supporting universities and research programs focused on energy, environment, and mobility in several countries such as Germany, India, and the US, to name a few. This is done through their Bosch Energy Research Network, which is commonly known as BERN.
Lego intends to invest 150 million dollars over the next fifteen years to address climate change and waste reduction. In an effort to stay true to its advocacy, Lego has also reduced its packaging and invested in an alternative energy source. To accomplish their goals, the company goes a step beyond by hiring a team dedicated to supporting their goals and commitment to using sustainable materials. Lego also intends to reach a 90% recycling rate.
To coin their CSR initiatives, Pfizer uses the term corporate citizenship. The company believes that CSR is not only a trendy gimmick to drive more sales but see it as a core part of their company and how they conduct their business. To accomplish their initiatives, the company raises awareness for non-infectious diseases and provides healthcare for marginalized women and children globally. An example of their CSR ideas is the price reduction of their Prevenar 13 vaccine, which is used to treat pneumonia and ear and blood infections for those in need and in situations such as refugee camps and emergency settings.
The article above is just a glimpse into how companies utilize corporate social responsibility to make a difference in the world. CSR is meant to protect the planet and improve the quality of life for the communities they impact, serve and benefit from every day.
Businesses and brands—whether big or small—should pay close attention to the issues your market and customers are most passionate about. Determine what social and environmental issues your customers are interested in and identify the ways your company can make a positive impact at a community and global level. After all, in this time and age, it is not enough for a company to only make money but to be socially and environmentally aware as well.