Ethics is good business
In a perfect world, everyone would like
to be ethical. The majority of
people don’t set out to do bad things, and we would all like to be thought of
as good people.
Somewhere in business, however, things get complicated.
There are numerous ways for a company to be ethical that vary from sector to sector and country to country. Legitimate “Green” initiatives, sustainability, community outreach and charity are just a few ways that a company can be socially responsible within their communities and industries. Those individuals passionate about corporate social responsibility or CSR will have great intentions and gusto to make the world a better place.
However, a problem these passionate individuals often face is in demonstrating the value of CSR initiatives to superiors focused on the bottom line. CSR initiatives are expensive to implement and sustain, and if the value cannot be easily shown, many companies will scrap these good intentions under the guise of good returns.
So how to demonstrate the value? A little PR lesson helps.
The companies with exceptional CSR practices tend to be some of the most successful companies in the world. In 2010 Maclean’s magazine listed their top 50 socially responsible corporations. Names like Adidas, BMO, CIBC, Enbridge, McDonald’s, Telus and Volkswagen jump out, but most readers will recognize every single name on the list.
The key correlation here: CSR = Powerful brand.
When CSR practices are integrated with public relations effort, what a company has gained is positive brand image. While it is important that a company does good things, it is equally important that the company’s public relations function communicates these good deeds to the general public. To make the money spent on CSR worth it, it is necessary to be seen doing good things, not just to do them.
In the end, CSR is a win-win situation. The company gets good publicity and is seen as a good corporate citizen, and the public benefits from the initiatives designed to help their communities. In the end, being socially responsible is being financially responsible.