In the business world, the financial bottom-line and shareholder return on investment have long been the main drivers for companies in measuring their success. During the 1950s and 1960s, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and corporate citizenship emerged as an alternative priority for organisations to consider.
At its heart, Corporate Social Responsibility is about an organisation taking responsibility for the impacts of its decisions and activities on all aspects of society, the community and the environment. Corporate Social Responsibility is more than just donating money or printing double-sided to save trees, it’s about contributing to the health and welfare of society, operating transparently and ethically. More importantly, this way of operating should be embedded in the business, rather than an afterthought.
Benefit 1: The ability to have positive impact in the community
Keeping social responsibility front of mind encourages businesses to act ethically and to consider the social and environmental impacts of their business. In doing so, organisations can avoid or mitigate detrimental impacts of their business on the community. In some cases, organisations will find ways to make changes in their services or value chain that actually delivers benefits for the community, where they once didn’t.
Benefit 2: It supports public value outcomes
Put simply, public value is about the value that an organisation contributes to society. A sound, robust corporate social responsibility framework and organisational mindset can genuinely help organisations deliver public value outcomes by focussing on how their services can make a difference in the community. This might happen indirectly, where an organisation’s services enable others to contribute to the community, or directly through the organisation’s own activities, such as volunteerism and philanthropy.
Benefit 3: It supports being an employer of choice
Being an employer of choice typically translates into the company’s ability to attract and retain high calibre staff. There are ways to approach being an employer of choice, including offering work life balance, positive working conditions and work place flexibility. Studies have shown that a robust corporate social responsibility framework can also help a company become more attractive to potential future employees who are looking for workplaces with socially responsible practices, community mindedness and sound ethics.
Benefit 4: It encourages both professional and personal development
Providing employees with the opportunity to be involved in a company’s socially responsible activities can have the benefit of teaching new skills to staff, which can in turn be applied in the workplace. By undertaking activities outside of their usual work responsibilities, employees have the chance to contribute to work and causes that they might feel passionate about, or learn something entirely new which can help enrich their own perspectives. By supporting these activities, organisations encourage growth and support for employees.
Benefit 5: It enhances relationships with clients
A strong corporate social responsibility framework is essential to building and maintaining trust between the company and clients. It can strengthen ties, build alliances and foster strong working relationships with both existing and new clients. One way this can be achieved is by offering pro-bono or similar services where a company can partner with not-for-profit organisations to support their public value outcomes, where funds or resources may be limited. In turn, this helps deliver public value outcomes that may not have been delivered otherwise.