The age of donating a million dollars and spending millions of dollars in publicizing that donation are behind us. Now more than ever, consumers are calling for large corporations to small businesses alike to integrate their corporate social responsibility values into the fabric of their company culture. From sustainability, workers’ rights or supporting the hungry, consumers expect brands to align themselves with a cause and fully support that cause whether consumers hear about it or not. In today’s era, corporate social responsibility is much more than an added value piece to a company’s public relations campaign: it is their brand identity.
Image Caption: Communities Take Root, a campaign to give back by Dreyer’s Fruit Bars, plants fresh fruit orchards in deserving neighborhoods chosen by voters.
In a survey done by Landor Associates, 77 percent of consumers said it is important for companies to be socially responsible. In addition, in the 1999 Cone/Roper Cause Related Trends Report, at least 80 percent of those surveyed said they had a more positive association of the firm if it has a corporate social responsibility campaign, and two-thirds said the company’s corporate social responsibility would affect their purchasing decision, switching to companies that give back to a cause in some way. With more information than ever available at consumers’ fingertips, consumers have established giving back as an important criteria in making their purchasing decisions, and actively seek out that information before making a purchase.
In addition, in the Time Magazine article Why Companies Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Their Social Responsibilities, the author argues that having corporate social responsibility affects your talent pool of employees. Having a corporate social responsibility was listed as the third most important factor in determining an employer, in a study conducted by Towers Perrin.
Another added value to attracting a qualified workforce that cares about corporate social responsibility is that employees understand they are working for a greater good, adding to employee morale and motivation in their job roles. By creating an altruistic company culture, companies can attract like-minded individuals who derive their motivation from serving the greater good of the business, and believe in the business’s mission. This intrinsic motivation creates more motivated employees who have a deep interest in their job position, and require less external rewards.
Developing an authentic, integrated corporate social responsibility campaign requires a lot of support from management. To create a company culture built around giving back, management must set an example by supporting the cause personally, set up incentive programs that benefit the cause, provide consistent support to the cause, and have a deep understanding of the cause and why the organization has selected this cause to support. While there is added effort in building a company culture around corporate social responsibility, the benefits are great. And besides, it’s always better to give than to receive, right?