We at Kinetic West pride ourselves on distilling complicated, long, intimidating, or even boring research and data into bite size chunks that are interesting and actionable. We plan to use this blog as an opportunity to share our learning journey, recent work, and interesting developments in the social impact sector.
For an inaugural "learnings" post, we've decided to take a look at Corporate Social Responsibility (or for those in the know, "CSR"). As we've made our transition from public sector teachers to private sector consultants and now to a space in between, we wanted to dig into another topic that also resides at this intersection. But don't worry… we'll keep this short and sweet.
First off, what is CSR?
CSR has many alphabet soup / euphemistic monikers (CSV - creating shared value; ESG - environmental, social, and governance; social impact; corporate citizenship; sustainable business) that all seek to capture the same concept. To put simply, CSR is when organizations act beyond profit maximization to benefit the communities in which they work. Examples of CSR programs include employee volunteer days, supply chain waste reduction, non-profit partnerships, to name a few.
The business case -- aka 4 reasons why CSR is important
One could think CSR sounds great for organizations with lots of time and endless resources, but you have customer orders to fulfill, employees who are depending on you, and shareholders who are expecting results yesterday. CSR is important however, precisely because each of these constituencies care about it too.
1. Your customers care about CSR
Drives customer loyalty / advocacy
Improves brand perception
B2B (business-to-business) customers care too
2. Your employees care about CSR
3. Your shareholders care about CSR
Let’s also take a step back here for a 4th reason: CSR is the right thing to do for our communities. If organizations can have the rights of people, they should also have the moral responsibilities of people.
Or… if you’d rather not do CSR, if you don’t have the time or resources to create and execute a CSR strategy, then don’t. But then don’t advocate for lower corporate taxes or engage in complicated tax avoidance. Pay your fair share and let our government handle societal improvements.
On our next episode, we'll share our learnings on the most effective components of a CSR strategy -- synthesizing leading scholarship and pretty (expensive) graphics so you don't have to.