According to BusinessDictionary.com corporate social responsibililty (CSR) is “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates.” This concept has been around since the late 1960’s, and since that time corporations increasingly realize the value of the improved brand reputation that comes from a commitment to CSR.
CSR initiatives are a powerful branding tool when executed in a way that demonstrates a true commitment, rather than just a PR gesture. Printing on both sides of the copy paper and recycling pop cans isn’t enough to establish a company as socially responsible. Using sustainable materials in manufactured products; reducing energy consumption in operations; and donating employee time to community projects are all practical ways to increase the corporate socially responsible footprint. Oh – and let’s not forget another important action that can demonstrate our pledge to social responsibility – buying and distributing promotional products that are eco-consious, and, in some cases, sourced from fair trade, fair wage suppliers.
Examples of socially responsible products range from gourmet food produced in Yonkers, NY by a bakery committed to fair wages and community renewal, to tote bags made in Cambodia from recycled mosquito netting. Jewelry is created from tagua seeds that are harvested from the sustainably-harvested Ivory Nut Palm grown in the rainforests of Columbia. And something as simple as an organic cotton coffee cup sleeve ($3.00 for an opening order minimum quantity of 100 pieces) supports Kenyan mothers of children with special needs. The prices vary as widely as the products, so there is a product and a pricepoint to fit most corporate marketing needs.
Most of us understand that not everything purchased to promote brand awareness can be eco-friendly. Sometimes the pricing can’t meet the budget guidelines, and other times the product options don’t offer choices that speak to the target audience. But with all else being equal, companies that actively promote their corporate social responsibility programs by putting their brand on products that speak to their commitment to society and the planet, are viewed more favorably.
Earth Day is April 22 – now is a good time to give visible testament to how your company plans to increase your socially responsible footprint!
(Image courtesy of Tawheed Manzoor)