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Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Improve Your Brand

Companies are increasingly delving into better  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to ensure the wellbeing of the world’s population, including respecting human rights, protecting future generations, and safeguarding the environment using sustainable business practices. CSR can take on many different forms, but it all comes back to the same idea: leaving the planet and society better off than when you found it.

Your CSR is important for sustainability and human rights, but it’s also a tool for boosting your brand and your bottom line.  A thoughtful, robust CSR program can help your company avoid costly lawsuits and public backlash, and the right plan can improve your regulatory compliance efforts. Overall, your company will improve its brand while  giving consumers more reasons to buy your products or services.

The Dangers of Ignoring Corporate Social Responsibility

Ignoring CSR is becoming increasingly difficult for many companies with more consumers demanding ethically-sourced food products and sustainable environmental practices. With the rise of social media, consumers can quickly call out a company for its irresponsible business practices. Media organizations and journalists can also give legs to these types kinds of stories, tarnishing a company’s reputation overnight.

This year, Apple was criticized for its poor supplier quality management because they were working with a company with poor working conditions for its workers. Factory workers at Catcher Technology Co. in China have been subject to poor working conditions, including lack of employee hygiene by withholding hot water, subjecting employees to intense sound pollution, and forcing employees to work for as little as $2 a day. Since then, Apple has revised its supplier quality compliance regulations to improve worker conditions, but the damage from bad PR will linger.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ben & Jerry’s, has been investing in fair-trade ingredients and corporate sustainability practices since 2010. The company ensures that every ingredient used in its products is Fair Trade Certified. They do this by working with Fair Trade cooperatives, which encompass over 27,000 farmers. They have also led the way when it comes to livable wages, with new hires earning well above the national minimum wage. As a result of these measures, the company has enjoyed positive public perception as well as happier employees. And happy employees means greater productivity and less employee turnover.

What Does Corporate Social Responsibility Look Like?

CSR may already be a part of your business plan, but it may be time to take stock of your current operations and look for ways to include CSR as part of your company goals and business strategy. From making changes at the corporate level to demanding more from suppliers, here are a few ideas to get your creative wheels turning.:

  • Partnering with suppliers and farmers that provide sustainable, ethically-sourced food products
  • Reducing fuel, electricity, and water usage
  • Using recycled materials for packaging
  • Switching to renewable sources of fuel such as solar power
  • Including ongoing CSR training for employees
  • Ensuring worker safety and right throughout your supply chain
  • Supporting nonprofit organizations and institutions

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