Today, people are much more aware and wary of what public figures, the media and companies communicate to them. Because of this heightened skepticism, businesses must stand out and give meaning to what they do so that consumers can find meaning in what they buy.

What is corporate social responsibility? 

Corporate social responsibility stems from the premise that companies and society interact with one another; they are not independent entities. Therefore, society has certain expectations regarding a company’s behaviour, values and vision. Social responsibility can be related to the environment, politics, or social or cultural issues. A company’s brand must not only evoke the value its products or services bring to the table but also its values with respect to society.

Values rule  

More and more consumers—particularly young people—no longer want to simply buy a product. They want to live an experience. Patrick Beauduin, Co-Founder of the DESS in Marketing Communications at the HEC Montréal and professor at Kedge Bs MBA in Bordeaux and Shanghai, explains that experiences are meaningful to consumers. Consumers therefore analyze whether or not a brand and its products have meaning to them. Mr. Beauduin says: “Since the beginning of consumerism, buying products or services contributes to an individual’s acknowledgement in society. Fifty years ago, people bought products and services to show their economic standing. Nowadays, it is to show their values.” 

How to set your company apart 

From an internal standpoint, social responsibility influences your corporate culture and work environment, because it enhances your brand image and can be used as a means to engage employees. By creating a corporate social responsibility plan, your employees will feel as though their work is more meaningful than just their performance levels.

Corporate social responsibility is also a great way to differentiate your products or services on the market by inciting people with similar values to consider your offering versus a competitor. Moreover, corporate social responsibility legitimizes your business and gives it credibility. It stands to reason that respecting your social responsibility plan will not necessarily guarantee your success. You need to communicate your values and initiatives—and then measure the results to better seize market opportunities. 

It is definitely a good idea to highlight your corporate social responsibility initiatives. In fact, you no longer have the choice. For example, a mining company cannot simply establish itself in a town, relocate citizens, cause pollution and exploit the region’s resources without giving back to the community. This is not just about a company having a conscience—it just makes sense. Your corporate social responsibility initiatives must be aligned with your business’ vision and context. You must remain sincere and transparent. Consumers and citizens are not easily fooled. If you are committed to social responsibility for the long haul, you’ll do more damage than good. 

Think about how you can incorporate social responsibility initiatives in your overall marketing strategy. Thanks to social media, content marketing and events, you can promote your initiatives to better position your company in the marketplace and attract new clients. The link between financial performance and social responsibility may be difficult to establish, but there is a strong chance that if a company does not respect societal and environmental issues, it will not be viable in the long run. 

Sources

Beauduin, Patrick. Les marques, un repère de valeurs sociales. Infopresse. http://www.infopresse.com/article/2017/2/22/les-marques-peuvent-etre-un-repere-de-valeurs-sociales?c_rid=67vs0019019fo8claDg1809342154%7C22350236&utm_medium=email&utm_source=INFOPRESSE_MASTER-Quotidienne. 22 février 2017.

Duong Quynh Lien. La responsabilité sociale de l’entreprise, pourquoi et comment ça se parle? Communication et Organisation. 2005 #26. P.26-43. .

Frimousse, Soufyane et Jean-Marie Perreti. Regards croisés sur engagement RSE et performance. Cairn. https://www.cairn.info/revue-questions-de-management-2015-1-page-65.htm. 2015.

International Institute for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Business practices. IISD. https://www.iisd.org/business/tools/principles_sbp.aspx. 2013.

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