Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is usually the last thing on an entrepreneur’s mind when setting out to start a business, but this is where they get it wrong. It should be part of the company’s culture from the onset. CSR is the funky term given to efforts by a company to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits alongside great products and services. The idea of ‘giving back to the community’ sounds cools and there’s no doubt that, it is a PR step in the right direction. But contributing to society at large is often a much lower priority for companies than turning a profit. It is not just the right thing to do, but it also gives your business a competitive edge. Philosopher Henry David Thoreau said that “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” Here are some of the reasons why you should take CSR seriously:
Responsible practices results in cost savings – Thinking ‘green’ is a CSR step you can adopt. Cost-efficiency is one of the first responsibilities of any entrepreneur, and engaging in responsible, sustainable practices can be a great way to cut costs. Being Eco-friendly by using less packaging or slashing energy waste doesn’t just help conserve environmental resources, it helps to also conserve spending.
It sets your brand apart – Giving back in a palpable way can be a great opportunity to set your company apart from your competition. An example is The Dangote Foundation which intervenes in the area of health, education and economic empowerment. It has also donated largely to the welfare of internally displaced persons in Northern Nigeria. The footwear brand, TOMS also runs a CSR campaign which for every pair of shoes the footwear company sells, it donates a pair to a child in an impoverished region. TOMS call this its “One For One” business model, which also immediately differentiates the company from its myriad competitors selling slip-on shoes. This initiative has distinguished TOMS from other brands within the same industry because, it is going the extra mile to do what others have not thought of.
It attracts the best talents to your company – Competition for the best talents can get fierce in some industries. When your company stands for more than profits, it gives employees an easy reason to believe in your corporate vision. Also, when prospective job candidates see that your business is substantially contributing to society, they’re more encouraged to be a part of what you’re doing.
It promotes consumer demand – Consumers expect businesses and corporations to give back to the community. While this may feel like a burden to business owners, it is essential to see CSR as a powerful marketing tool, if maximized effectively. The money spent on implementing a community driven project when compared to the millions budgeted for advertising campaigns can help to accomplish the same task more efficiently, for far less cost.