Currently corporations dominate our everyday lives whether through the products we buy, our methods of travel, and the food we eat. They employ many of us, dominate the world’s economy, and their strategies have become the textbook method for economic growth in the developing world. However, many global citizens find it hard to reconcile the detrimental effects that companies have on the the world’s climate, workers rights, and facilitators of economic disparity. Therefore, a relatively new strategy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), the process where companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, whether economic, social, and environmental is slowly making a global impact.
In fact a recent study reports that 87% of consumers said they would only purchase a product from a company supported an issue they care about, and 76% stated they would refuse to buy from a company which supports an issue contrary to their own beliefs. Encouraging companies to engage in programs that benefit the overall community (whether local, national, or international) is paramount to ensuring not just a positive message for companies and boosting morale amongst staff but can also lead to the overall financial success of an institution over time. This has increasingly become a more popular direction for the corporate world, in fact 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs.and 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies now publish annual CSR reports. Therefore businesses that reduce an environmental impact, support ethical labor practices, engage in philanthropic programs, and encourage volunteerism all will see net benefits in the end for their work.
Additionally, a comprehensive CSR strategy can benefit all stakeholders if executed properly. While companies can have their media coverage increased they can in turn attract future investors and customers as they ride new socially responsible waves sweeping cultures. While nonprofits themselves, if a proper partnership is in place, can benefit from funding via matching gift programs, more volunteer participation and varied sources of revenue. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17: Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development for example encourages corporate and civic sponsorship for its goals. Lastly, employees will enjoy a positive workplace environment from increases in creativity and a greater sense of purpose based on a belief that their work contributes to a greater good.
Some of the most successful companies have implemented CSR strategies of their own, Starbucks for example can boast that 99% of its coffee is ethically sourced. Additionally, it claims to support local farmers in 75 countries, pioneers green energy initiatives throughout its stores, and contributes millions of hours of community service by encouraging employees to take part in local programs. In the future it hopes to hire over 10,000 refugees across 75 countries; reduce the environmental impact of its products by banning plastic straws; and train its employees in environmental leadership initiatives.
Chipotle, the high end fast food chain has a sustainability program devoted to employee rights, animal and plant welfare, respect for the environment, and a promotion of transparent corporate governance. Its progress on these four measures are also detailed in a report available to view by the public. Food waste, something which happens far too often in wealthy countries contributes to methane emissions and leads to food security imbalances around the world. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Agency estimates that approximately one-third of food produced in the world gets wasted every year which amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries. Therefore efforts by restaurant chains to tackle this problem has become increasingly popular.
Lastly, Google, the search engine giant which boasts a GDP larger than many small nations, has the Google Green program. This is a comprehensive sustainability plan that ensures its data centers use 100% renewable energy, staff engage in environmentally friendly programs dedicated to building ecological habitats, and workplace conscious plans that ensure 11.1 million square feet of its office facilities are LEED certified. It publishes a thoroughly impressive guide for reducing food, energy, and water waste and can boast that it has been carbon neutral for over a decade. In terms of its relationship with nonprofits it doesn’t just partner with them but has an easy to follow guide which can help organizations increase donations and visibility.
While critics may argue that CSR strategies are simply ploys to increase a public relations image of a company as they greedily gobble up profits the truth is that corporate responsibility is now the norm in the business world. Currently, the only ways for a company to be successful is to engage in programs that benefits society and/or the environment. No longer should activist citizens and anti-corporate minded organizations vilify companies but develop strategies to partner with them. In turn corporate employees will benefit from a sense of purpose that their mission is not just one of taking home a paycheck but contributing to the overall welfare of the community and planet. Developing corporate responsibility strategies and creating these kinds of partnerships is part of our mission at Grounded. Please contact us and follow our social media channels to know more about how we can help your business take part in similar programs.