Thursday, 8 May 2014

The value of CSR: Show me the money!

Implementing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives can be challenging. Many companies find that even though they like the idea of doing something to benefit the world around them, the cost of implementing and sustaining such initiatives is prohibitive. To the untrained eye it may be difficult to see the return on investment around such initiatives, but there are many different ways to calculate this once you understand all of the areas of your business that are positively affected by CSR initiatives.

One of the greatest benefits of a strong CSR campaign is employee engagement. According to a 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce study, CSR is among the most important drivers of Employee Engagement. Provided the campaign is perceived as being valuable to all stakeholders (internal and external), a strong commitment to CSR instills company pride and makes the employer more attractive to potential job seekers. If you can attract and retain good people, your company is making money. If those good people continue to be engaged at work, then you are saving money through great customer service, reduced turnover and absenteeism. Furthermore, your employees will put in a much more productive day than their disengaged counterparts. That’s the simplified version of the benefits of an engaged workforce. Engaged employees can save you millions of dollars.

Another place to measure your return on investment with your CSR program is to measure how your program affects sustainability. For example, if you have a CSR program which supports green efforts, then you will naturally want to reduce your carbon footprint. Replacing business travel with web based meetings and training sessions, can significantly reduce the amount of money your company spends on travel. How much paper are you wasting? Factor that in as well.

Building a strong public image through CSR increases brand awareness and ultimately sales, so that is another measurement for you to consider when calculating the ROI of your Corporate Social Responsibility program. It is a fact that people buy from people and organizations they trust and they will remain loyal to you as long as you continue to be trustworthy. Your CSR campaign is an investment in your relationship with the public. A recent Cone Communications Echo Research study states that 90% of consumers claimed they would stop buying products from a company if they learned it was using deceptive or irresponsible business practices. It also found that over half of those people had stopped buying a product or service in the past 12 months because of such behaviour. What is your reputation doing to your business?

These are just a few simple things to monitor as you embark on your CSR campaign. Corporate social responsibility is definitely good for business. Any mid to large sized company can implement a successful campaign and make it worth their while. Even small companies can engage in activities that will positively support the world we live in and build a loyal following. Who do you buy your products from? What charities do you support? All of this matters. It matters to employees and to consumers alike, and it matters to business.
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