My question “The Recession: CSR Opportunity or Business as Usual?” seems to have really hit a nerve. In addition to 5 comments that were posted on this blog, I receieved many emails from people who have been asking themselves the same question.
From what I heard, on balance people are seeing the recession as a CSR opportunity. This being said, there are some important consideration for corporations to keep in mind:
- Need to involve non-profits as partners to provide credibility to social programs
- Need to amplify social programs and “good deeds” in way that appears genuine
- Need to avoid public announcements of social or environmental programs that have limited impact
- Need to avoid being seen as opportunistic and using the new “era of responsibility” to make claims that stakeholders will see as inauthentic
- Need to think long term – even in the face of short term economic pressures
- Need to be more specific – generic alignment with broad social issues such as “environment” or environmental priorities such as “reducing waste” is no longer meaningful enough to stakeholders
- Need to think about corporate social purpose as a business fundamental rather than a sideline
- Need to measure results (both business, environmental, and social) in order to gain traction and ensure accountability on the inside, and demonstrate accomplishments on the outside
None of these points are new. The difference is that during the recession they have taken on a new level of priority because employees, customers, consumers, investors, and local communities don’t believe that “business as usual” is an option.
Here’s an excerpt form a recent article in Forbesby John Zogby: “In most cases, to succeed, businesses must have active corporate social responsibility initiatives. Our research is finding time and again that consumers are looking at corporate behavior on the environment, workers’ rights, equal opportunity and other issues as a growing factor in their purchasing decisions, as well as in choosing where to invest their money. Looking longer-term, this will be even more true, because the 18- to 29-year-old ‘First Globals’ are more attuned to these concerns than their elders.”
Keep the comments coming!