Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a buzzword for years but it’s growing into a new acronym that can’t go ignored. Corporate marketing teams and branding experts are jumping in with both feet. Rightly so since the concept of “using business as a force for good” is a sure way to lure the hearts of the Millennials. And, the idea that companies can use their impressive power and influence to make the world a better place is a refreshing approach to business practices.
However, similar to marketing and branding plans, not all CSR programs are created equal. Brands who want to be successful, need to curate their CSR practices strategically and carefully. Good CSR requires that charitable actions are rooted in a company’s existing mission and values. Sure, it’s easier to throw some money at a non-profit and call it a day but trust us, your customers will see right through that. Those Millennials with their $2.45 trillion in spending power are especially conscious about the authenticity of CSR efforts. According to the recent Millennial CSR Study by Cone Communcations, Millennials are universally more engaged in CSR efforts. The study reveals more than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average) and two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).
Of course, a big part of aligning actions and values is to recognize the importance of giving back. Businesses are slowly becoming more aware of the spaces they occupy. Whether it’s the neighborhood the office is in, or the communities their products’ impact, corporations are recognizing their footprints and acting to not only reduce their negative effects but also give back and make lasting impacts.
So, where do you start? I decided to go back to school to get a Certificate from CU on Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR). Sure, Scream Agency has been giving back to our community for nearly 20 years (our 5K Scream Scram is just one example). And we’ve been helping clients, marketing execs and brands with CSR initiatives for just as long. But, this CSR topic is not going away and learning the standard business practices and collaborating with other professionals in this field brings a whole new perspective to the approach.
If the idea of college homework sounds daunting, there are other resources. For our fellow Denverites, there are several local options to get rolling with CSR. B:CIVIC, B Corps and B Labs are all in our community and great places to start.
This year, Scream Agency has joined B:CIVIC and has also made a commitment to apply to become a certified B Corp company. If CSR interests you, join us at the B:CIVIC Summit a week from today, Sept. 29.
If you’re still not hooked (or on the fence) as to whether you need to dig deeper into this CSR or B Good topic for your company or brand, give me a shout. I might even make you be a research candidate for my homework. Okay, maybe not. But, we’d love to fill your brain and heart with why we think “being good” and “being the change” matters for business.