People not only hope that companies will “do what’s right,” they expect it. Communicate a clear, accessible Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and revitalize your company and your brand from the inside out.
1. Brand reputation is an invaluable asset. Work on it.
Companies need allies and friends, and establishing trust is key. With a solid reputation and established credibility, your company has the benefit of the doubt in times of crisis, and this is immensely helpful for the success of new initiatives and expansion. Creating “intimacy” with your stakeholders through social media, sharing stories, and supporting initiatives important to your communities builds a reservoir of goodwill and credibility. Consumers are more likely to be influenced by those they trust (see the Trust Equation). But with only 10% trusting companies to behave ethically, businesses have a long way to go. Building your Social Responsibility case is an essential tool.
2. A clear CSR vision is key. Make it uniquely yours.
Without an optimistic vision, companies can get caught in an endless circle of “doing” without a tangible connection to business goals. Make CSR a part of your company identity, and be sure it adds value to the company. Speak in the language of business, not the ever-evolving language of CSR and sustainability. Demonstrated, authentic commitment is crucial for recruitment, employee engagement and retention in an era where people expect brands to take stands. Appealing to emotions is vital to building support and increasing understanding across stakeholder groups.
3. Reporting is both a communications and strategic tool. Commit to it.
Internally: The very process of crafting a report and hammering out a concrete vision can facilitate change. Sharing your CSR vision internally, setting goals and measuring against them can improve performance. And, engaged employees see themselves as proud, authentic brand ambassadors.
Externally: It is important to strategize how much and what information to disclose, and exactly how to present it. More is not more. Focus on the value your company provides to your stakeholders, sharing only what is relevant to your company. Choose a reporting standard relevant to your audiences: The GRI is targeted to vast global stakeholders with lots of industry-specific items and SASB is U.S.-centric and highly investor focused. No standard is required, though of course many stakeholders are searching for one.
What can you do now?
- Get your employees engaged in the company’s CSR and Sustainability plans
- Get your report off the ground
- Learn more about Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability with these resources:
Struggling to effectively communicate your story? Ideas On Purpose can help.