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Corporate Social Responsibility is a relatively new term which is fast gaining currency. Businesses are more successful when they reflect the values of their would-be customers. Increasingly, it is supposed, shoppers want to spend their money with businesses who share their values.
Environmental concerns are near the top of the agenda for many consumers. Having been educated on the evils of plastic straws and plastic bags, we’re now expecting similar levels of green-ness from the packaging which contains the goods we receive. Comparing a range of couriers through an online service will also allow you to determine which best suits your needs.
Recognize issues that matter to your customers
Certain social issues have a particular currency, particularly on social media, where algorithms designed to promote ‘engagement’ are pushing people into increasingly polarised and entrenched positions on the issues of the day. But, according to Alan Jope, the chief executive of Unilever, strategies of this kind are destructive of public trust in the advertising industry. “Woke-washing is beginning to infect our industry,” warned. “It’s putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world’s issues.”
Respond Quickly to Developing Issues
Business does not exist in a vacuum. Customers want to be able to trust in a company that takes their social responsibilities seriously. The issue of coronavirus is one that has defined 2020 thus far. Every kind of business, from retailers to manufacturers, has had to adapt quickly. Moreover, customers have been served a reminder, in the form of toilet-paper and sanitiser shortages, of the extent to which they rely on business. By displaying social responsibility during a time of crisis, businesses can foster the emotional bonds which will make customers come back again once the crisis is over.
Make your CSR program sustainable
Corporate Social Responsibility should not be viewed as a quick solution. Shallow interventions on the issues of the day risk alienating customers, who might come to view you with a degree of cynicism. The term ‘virtue signaling’ is one that’s acquired negative currency, particularly on the political right.
With that said, signalling your values does, actually, have a demonstrable impact on the behaviour of others. Amazon’s ‘Smile’ service donates 0.5% of every eligible purchase to a charity pre-selected by the customer. This provides customers the warming glow that comes with knowing that they’re doing good.
Another approach might be to identify which charities you believe are effective and worthwhile, develop partnerships with them, and give a percentage of your proceeds away. Pick charities that provide good value, perhaps through a service like GiveWell, and communicate to your customers why you’ve chosen a particular charity, and why you think they should give of their own volition. Certain causes will resonate across the political spectrum, without drawing the business into a culture war. Even in 2020, few could object that a portion of their money is going toward vitamin A supplements that will help a child avoid permanent blindness.
Whichever way you choose, make sure your company incorporates at least one element of corporate sustainable development.
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