Corporate Social Responsibility - getting it right in 2020
Corporate, or brand social responsibility (CSR) isn’t a new idea. It’s actually a child of the 1950s and 60s and was designed to see what kind of impact companies have on society. Turns out, it’s a big one. CSR has evolved into a way of encouraging corporations both large and small to engage in responsible and ethical behaviour. Common causes have included climate change, sustainability and diversity. Some businesses go so far as to publish public pledges.
Burwe’s Anush Mnatsakanyan absolutely nailed it during the Bobble Pod when she said that in 2020 your CSR is really about selling your brand, not your product. Let’s take a closer look.
How has CSR changed since the pandemic?
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, never has there been more need for businesses that can afford to help out, whether that’s a cause, an individual, or a smaller business. So far we’ve seen the high flyers of the Premier League called upon to do what they can for their colleagues across the lower leagues who will struggle without fans in their grounds. Then you’ve got Pret a Manger offering free coffees and other discounts to NHS workers. COVID’s silver lining is that in some instances, it seems to be bringing out the best in people. Certainly those in business.
A difference in attitude.
Some argue that COVID-19 has taken the focus away from other charitable causes. With less money to spare, charities are finding their usual streams of income pulled from under them. There’s no doubt about it - times are tough.
The pandemic has also brought how employers treat their staff into focus. It’s been interesting to watch. We’ve all seen those named and shamed in the papers over the past few months - the companies who have left their employees high and dry, not seeming to care about what will happen to them. In terms of your employer brand, that’s the kind of mud that sticks.
On the other side of the coin, there have also been reports of other corporations handing back furlough scheme money because they didn’t need it - businesses who have decided that ethically, keeping the cash just wouldn’t be right. That’s the kind of example people want brands to set them.
Ultimately, the way companies handle the next coming years in the wake of 2020 could be what defines their legacy long-term.
Before you can even think about choosing the cause that’s right for your business, you’ve got to know what your values are; what you believe in and what you stand for. These will inform what you decide to include in your CSR and what your employees and your customers are likely to really get behind. For example, a butcher might not support vegetarian or vegan organisations, but they might align with sustainable meat production and promote this within their company culture.
There’s no point including things that don’t speak directly to the hearts of your employees and your customers.
At Bobble Digital, we recognise our responsibility as an office-based business to reduce our environmental footprint where possible. From where we source our office supplies to our day-to-day operating methods, we’re committed to doing our bit to make Bobble Digital a more sustainable business all round.
Throughout the pandemic, we've seen some awesome examples of pure survival. We’ve also seen examples of businesses helping one another survive. It’s no longer enough to simply sign a petition or raise money once a year; Corporate Social Responsibility isn’t a tick box exercise. Some of the behaviours we’ve seen give us hope that these cultural changes are here for good, not just for the pandemic.