With community, healthcare, and economic need more urgent than ever, companies, from healthcare systems to local pizza joints, are meeting community needs with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. And using them to strengthen their business strategies. A recent Zeno Group study showed that 94 percent of consumers want to engage with companies committed to the community good. And consumers want businesses that see social good as a necessity, not just a marketing strategy.
Here are a few guidelines on how to do it right:
- When choosing a purpose, don't just go with the CEO's pet project. Develop an intentional process to decide which issues make sense for your company's mission and intersect with your stakeholders' passions. For example, if your company manufactures medical equipment, a non-profit such as Doctors Without Borders is a natural fit as a potential partner.
- Dig deep into the issue you want to pursue. Take the time to understand all aspects of the problem you want to solve, rather than just making a donation, writing a news release, and calling it a day.
- Build a strong and diverse working group to oversee and explore the impact of the program. The working group informs your company's strategic priorities and helps leaders make quality decisions.
- Don't be afraid to tackle the tough issues. Most corporate culture looks askance at making waves, but that's the way to effect real change. When fans and politicians criticized Colin Kaepernick for protesting racial injustice during the National Anthem, Nike leaned into their support for him; and the athletic company saw their sales increase.
- Build evaluation and accountability into the process by establishing goals and metrics. Task your working group as monitors. What goes unmeasured goes unimproved.