Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a buzzword. It is not charity. Nor is it a cosmetic public relations program.
It is the realization that corporations are responsible for more than their own financial bottom line. It is the simple idea that your company can do well while also doing good. It is, in fact, the way truly successful companies do business long-term.
One of the most valuable functions of Public Relations is to be the eyes, ears, and conscience of an organization. This is where PR and CSR intersect. Senior, experienced PR practitioners can spot and pre-empt problems from happening in the first place.
The key question to as is: “Will this decision harm or help our community and its people and their environment?” And then amend actions accordingly, while still remaining profitable.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a very broad, over-arching concept that ranges from corporate donations and giving programs, to capital programs for infrastructure such as hospitals, to dealing with environmental groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and human rights.
At First Principles, we have long believed that Corporate Social Responsibility is a better way to operate. First Principles Communication’s Brian Kilgore and Alan Lane as well as managing partner Jana Schilder have decades of experience in helping companies do the right thing.
Read our Case Studies about Canadian and international CSR initiatives we have been involved with. Corporate Social Responsibility goes hand-in-hand with issues management.
The failure to embrace CSR frequently leads to crisis public relations.
Corporate Social Responsibility is the over-arching concept that your reputation drives value for your company, your employees, your shareholders and indeed the fabric of society. Companies that practice CSR have realized that their reputation is truly their most valuable asset and they are responsible for more than the bottom line.
Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
- Helps you attract and retain talented employees
- Helps you enter new jurisdictions
- Helps you access capital
- Helps you reduce operating costs over the long-term
- Helps you sell more products or services
- Helps you manage business risk
Key Facets of CSR
A well thought out CSR strategy is based on guiding principles and standards. It is supported by behaviours and backed up by accountability. As such, CSR permeates all your operations: looking out for your current and future employees (and your retired employees and your ex-employees—your “alumni”), your suppliers, the environment, and the communities in which you do business.
- Operational safety: how your operations put health and safety of workers first
- Human rights: how you treat employees, suppliers, and people in local communities
- Business practices: how you deal with social and political issues; how you deal with regulators, international governments, NGOs, associations, special interest groups
- Biodiversity: how you treat the earth, water, air, plants and animals
Social Media is Turning up the Volume
After decades of downsizing, rightsizing, and outsourcing, operating in an ethical way matters to more people than ever before.
In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media, everyone shares everything the minute it happens. So while good news travels fast, bad news travels even faster. And savvy groups are using social media to shine a spotlight on poor organizational behaviour. Many companies have realized that today, there simply is nowhere to hide.