I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Corporate Social Responsibility: Insightful U.S. Research by Cone Communications
Insightful business research that businesses should look at before making any changes to their CSR budgets has been published by Cone Communications in their Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker. It shows 86 per cent of U.S. consumers wish companies would tell them more about the results of their CSR efforts. Unfortunately, less than 40 per cent of consumers know where to find this information. Eight-four per cent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission statement to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose!
Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency recognised as a pioneer in cause marketing and CSR, has established a new approach called Corporate Social ReturnSM. This philosophy centres on the conviction that CSR must deliver measureable business, brand, and social impacts that yield benefits for vested stakeholders. Jonathan Yohannan, Cone Communications' Executive Vice President, says, "This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR. Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. 'Proving purpose' is the new mantra for effective CSR."
The current global financial crisis has hit all, including CSR initiatives, impacting the trust and credibility that the business sector has now lost. At a time of such uncertainty, building trust and developing relationships within and between businesses is vital. If companies do decide to cut their CSR budgets, some experts are of the view that this would send a message that CSR is only an optional add-on to companies in the 'good times,' and that spending on it only when a brand has money to spare is not sustainable.
Now, more than ever, is the time to increase CSR activities, targeted at those most in need, to try to rebuild some of the trust in business that has been eroded. As Cone's report shows, this does not mean the continuation of CSR as we have known it. In many ways, the current economic turbulence means that these initiatives will have to become more strategic if they are to be effective in meeting the new and emerging consumer needs that a sustained economic downturn brings.
These activities will need to become smarter and cleverer. The Do Well Do Good research, published in 2010, reflected the change already taking place with American consumers and employees. The findings showed that 83 per cent of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their employer used child labour in sweatshop factories and 65 per cent would consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment. Companies that proactively share the details and results of their CSR efforts will be rewarded with increased consumer loyalty and employee trust.
Photo Credit: European Commission