Does Corporate Social Responsibility Matter?
I was reading an old Forbes article on whether or not corporate social responsibility (CSR) matters. It claimed that while it is a virtuous thing to do, it doesn’t impact the bottom line. But are there other indirect benefits to a socially conscious company? We think so.
Having a higher purpose for your work motivates your employee base, and aligns the vision between customers and company. Do I go to Starbucks because of their generous labor policies? No. I go there because I like their coffee. But I do feel good about my purchase, because I know they treat their employees well and source their ingredients responsibly around the world. Granted, I don’t consciously think about their employee benefits every time I visit a store, but I do benefit from a positive attitude, empowered baristas, and a happy atmosphere, all of which improve the overall customer experience.
Social responsibility connects the customer to the company on a more meaningful level, and while it may not be quantifiable, it defines a culture and a brand in a way that a logo and advertisement alone cannot. It is the substance behind the brand that attracts customers and improves loyalty.
This is particularly true for B2B companies, who often have a more difficult time communicating their messaging to the general public. It provides a reason to share their purpose in terms the public understands. While we may not grasp the nuances of valves and the intricacies of derivatives, we all understand common obstacles that the world at large faces, things like educational reform and the rising cost of healthcare.
So while Forbes may be right in that it doesn’t necessarily directly lead to dollars, social responsibility likely improves the longevity of a company and creates a more integrated business that people identify and align with.