Is your Social Responsibility Strategy a brave commitment to long term change, or a short-sighted response to the current pandemic?
Expectations for companies to play a positive role in society have never been greater. The Covid pandemic will mean we all face serious and unforeseen social challenges for years to come as a result of the financial recession we find ourselves in, and the inequalities that will be exaggerated as a result.
Businesses fortunate enough to survive or even thrive through this crisis, will need to step up their efforts to alleviate these problems or face resentment from their wider stakeholder group.
Over the past year there has been a step change in the importance people place on companies making a positive impact on society, whether those judging are consumers, employees or investors.
“Over half of consumers (53%) agree that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one societal issue that does not directly impact it’s business but 56% of people believe too many brands use societal issues as a ‘marketing ploy’ to sell their products.”
Why is Corporate Social Responsibility so hard to get right?
Most business leaders accept that society is increasingly expecting organisations to do more than just create profit. Employees are seeking out employers who demonstrate some form of social responsibility, or at least awareness, as part of their commercial thinking. Consumers and clients are increasingly favouring brands who have social conscience at their core, and investors are increasingly assessing the maturity and sustainability of businesses on whether their boards are weaving social expectations into their commercial strategies. So why are so many business leaders paralysed at the start of their CSR journey?
MOVING AWAY FROM “CHARITY OF THE YEAR” – THE IDEAL BUSINESS MODEL
Why are charities consciously moving away from “Charity of the Year partnerships” when these have been the basis of most corporate partnerships historically? It seems the move is being driven from both sides of the equation and for good reason.
Are you prepared to think differently and lead the charge?
One-off tactical charity initiatives or Charity of the Year type arrangements may on the surface look like a good way to 'give back' but in reality, these initiatives are generally very shallow and don't deliver the desired impact for neither the charity nor the business. They certainly will not enable the charity to benefit from the breadth of skills and support your company could offer if it becomes purely about low level fund raising. So, what do corporates need to do to have the biggest impact?
No-one can forget the pseudo -karate fad that was “Six Sigma”. Only those with a doctorate in algebra were considered worthy enough to identify business issues, and win the coveted “black belt”. Then, on the back of Nordström and Ridderståle’s book “Funky Business” came a plethora of office slides and adult soft play areas driven by a belief that “coolness” equated to competitive advantage.
The Deloitte Millenial 2018 survey gives a fascinating insight into the views of Millennials on society as a whole and business's role within it. This group, who will make up 35% of the global workforce in a year's time, have much stronger views on how business should operate for the good of society rather than purely making a profit.
Are you being left behind in the Social Impact Arena?
According to Deloitte, 89% of Fortune 500 companies are actively engaged with Social Impact and customers/clients & employees are increasingly expecting companies of all sizes to be socially minded rather than purely focused on making a profit.