By Mr Harish Anchan
Not too long ago, the social responsibility of businesses was to increase their profits. This saying has since evolved greatly, as employers, employees and customers these days, hold businesses to a higher standard and higher accountability. It is not enough for a business to just produce a desired product or service; it must be done keeping in mind the changes it brings to the local communities where they operate. From increasing employability opportunities for the local populace to maintaining the ecological balance of the area where they operate, there are a number of ways business organisations must give back to the community.
Too often, CSR has been viewed as a passing fad by executives. But, with employees, customers, suppliers, basically the society placing increasing amounts of importance on CSR, organisations can take this as a creative opportunity to strengthen their business, while catering to the society’s needs. Some of the ways businesses can incorporate CSR into their operations are as follows:
Start with small, realistic goals
Since the focus of the CSR initiative is to bring positive changes for the community where the business operates, it is not necessary to go global with every project. It is highly advisable for businesses to carefully evaluate their capabilities to serve the community realistically, and begin making a difference through smaller, achievable goals. This will help make tangible changes in manageable timelines, which will help boost morale. Accomplishing smaller, realistic goals shows that the business is serious about their efforts and displays their potential to bring positive developments to the community.
Build your strategy around your company’s core competencies
There are a number of noteworthy causes that a business can and should support, but it is better to choose CSR goals that align with the businesses core competencies. As mentioned earlier, social initiatives offer businesses a rare opportunity to approach their usual offerings with new methods. By aligning your CSR activities with the company’s core competencies, you can use the already accumulated research, strengths and knowledge towards the support of the cause, resulting in a win for both – the community partners and the company, through new customer visibility and revenue streams.
Involve your customers
According to the Cone Communications CSR Study conducted in 2017, 87% of consumers would purchase a product based on a company supporting a social or environmental issue the consumer cares about. Consumers have been observed to reward socially responsible companies through brand loyalty, a donation to charities supported by the company, and purchasing products that provide a social benefit. Businesses should incorporate consumer feedback in their decisions; even let them choose the social cause they wish to champion for. Customers are an integral part of every businesses journey, and including them in these social initiatives will help create a better bond between them.
Work towards sustainability
While working towards a social goal is a noble cause, the impact lessens immensely if the efforts cannot be made sustainable. Just donating towards the cause is not enough; businesses need to develop relevant strategies in order to produce long-term results. Sustainability is an important part of CSR activities. It helps create better outcomes that can become self-sufficient, and hence last longer. One way that companies have begun incorporating CSR values within their organisation is by putting Carbon Credit from the usage of cook-stoves back to the corporates. This ensures the usage of the cook-stoves to the company boards, hence showing proper utilization of the CSR funds. Another way of incorporating sustainable practices is to include them in their daily operations. This includes:
– Working a paperless environment, whenever possible
– Participating in recycling programs
– Implementing eco-friendly lighting and plumbing
– Creating energy-efficient policies
– Encouraging car-pooling between employees
– Discouraging any unsustainable practices and industry standards
Build the right team
Social responsibility cannot be forced; the need for it must come from within. This is why it is important for businesses to assemble the right team for conducting their efforts towards their chosen cause. The higher management of the company needs to be on board wholeheartedly, aligned with the strategy and reason for bringing a change. Employee volunteering should be encouraged, and they must be given responsibility and accountability to carry out their projects. The business should also try to partner with relevant external organisations and outsource work to professionals, who work towards the chosen cause for better results.
Measure your performance
Just attempting to make a change is not enough; it is important to make sure these efforts are actually making the desired impact. This is why measuring the project upon completion of each phase is necessary to understand whether the company’s efforts are creating the right impact for the cause, and to check the public perception surrounding it. Getting feedback is another crucial element in understanding the relevance and impact of the company’s endeavours. This will help not just in measuring impact and accountability, but also helps in determining the way forward.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Mr Harish Anchan is the Managing Director of Envirofit India Pvt. Ltd. His overall responsibility lies in exploring new opportunities for Envirofit across the Asia Pacific region. He has been successful in creating the cookstoves awareness and presence in countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal, apart from India where his main focus is to spread awareness about Indoor Air Pollution and its effects on rural lives. Harish is also an active member of the ASCENT Foundation, a powerful peer-to-peer learning platform for entrepreneurs.
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The CSR Journal Team