5 Tips to Instill Corporate Social Responsibility Into Every Aspect of Your Brand
In today’s world, it’s never been more important for brands and businesses to adopt a socially responsible attitude. According to B2B ratings agency Clutch, more than 70% of consumers now expect the brands they buy from to take clear, public stances on important issues, and those that don’t will likely suffer because of it.
While simply putting out the occasional statement might’ve been sufficient just a few years ago, businesses need to be prepared to go the extra mile for social issues today. Customers want a brand that fights for justice in every aspect of their business, so it’s time to start thinking about ways that you can make social responsibility a foundational part of your company.
Even so, it can be difficult to know how to go about instilling social responsibility initiatives in your company if you’re just starting — here are a few tips that might be able to help.
1. Work from a clear set of values
Before anything else, be sure that you know exactly what your social responsibility is being built on. There’s no prefabricated list of priorities for you to adopt; you need to put in the work yourself to create an overall mission for your company. Without a clear set of values to draw upon, your attempts at corporate social responsibility will be fractured, haphazard, and unlikely to result in anything tangible for your business.
This Hubspot list of the values at top-flight companies such as Google and Whole Foods is a good place to get some starting ideas from, but your business’s path needs to be entirely its own. Brainstorm all of the things that inspired your business to begin with and continue to inspire you to this day. Those that stick can be a powerful place to start.
2. Make it part of company culture
Once you have your values and priorities in place, you can’t just expect people to blindly follow your lead. You need to actively promote social responsibility among your team if you want it to take hold in your brand, and the best way to do that is by making it a firm part of your company culture. Simply making everyone sign a mission statement isn’t enough — your employees need to be totally bought in in order for this to work.
Find a way to bring your team to the forefront of your social responsibility effort, and make it so integral to your company culture that not even a pandemic will slow your efforts. “This year, we’ve had to do things differently such as a virtual Force for Good day of service around the world,” says Ruth Todd, Senior Vice President for Global Public Affairs at Nu Skin. “At our HQ alone, our employees created more than 5,000 items to help children and families affected by this pandemic.”
Your business may not have the resource to start an initiative like Nu Skin’s Force For Good, but anything you can do to bring your workers into your initiatives is a step in the right direction.
3. Build around your employees’ interests
If you want to get your whole team engaged in social responsibility, let them guide your business’s journey. Research published in the Harvard Business Review highlights that, while workplace engagement is steadily dropping, nearly all workers maintain high levels of passion about certain hobbies and interests outside the office. Your values and goals may be your business’s, but let your employees’ paths be their own.
Take polls or do interviews with some of your workers in order to gauge common passions across your business. Companies with lots of environmentalists on staff should consider green initiatives, or businesses where a large proportion of the employees live in the same neighborhood could participate in beautification projects there. No matter what the result is, building around what your workers care about is always a good place to start.
4. Start in-house
It can be tempting to want to take on the world’s biggest problems with your social initiatives, but be careful not to bite off more than you can chew early on. Every business has to start somewhere, and if you’re hoping to make the world a better place, start by focusing internally.
Take Wells Fargo, for example. Though corporate social responsibility has been a focus of their culture for over a decade, 2020 was a year for them to refocus on engaging and empowering their employees to show their support of each other and their communities. “This new approach helped care for communities, neighbors and colleagues through personal actions,” said Nate Hurst, head of Social Impact & Sustainability for Wells Fargo, in a company blog post. “Across the company, we came together to demonstrate that every act of generosity matters.”
5. Let the world know — tastefully
Once you’ve started implementing corporate social responsibility across your brand, you’ll want to let your customer know in order to ensure that you’re on the same page with your consumer base. Overdoing it, however, can do far more harm than good to your brand.
When you’re telling the world that you’ve adopted big policies of social responsibility, be sure to be clear, concise and factual about it — anything else could easily land your brand in hot water.
A socially responsible brand is a brand that’s doing good for both itself and for the rest of the world. As you move your brand towards more justice-oriented policies, going all-in can transform your company for the better.