Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the most prominent trends among companies in today’s age. With customers being more conscious than ever, commitment to CSR initiatives has become a value proposition for most companies. However, adhering to CSR requires investment, and the critical question is: how can companies stick to their CSR plan in times of an economic downturn?
Understand CSR Better
A company can be socially responsible in many ways. Some methods require you to spend money. These include donating to charity, investing in green startups, offering free products and services to the needy, and more.
However, there are certain ways to adopt CSR that don’t require significant investment. These include creating a favourable culture for stakeholders and employees, reducing your environmental impact, and encouraging employees to volunteer their time to charity.
Evaluate Your Resources
Next, evaluate your resources. An economic downturn doesn’t necessarily mean your business is at a loss. It could be that things are slower than normal. You might still have the resources to support your CSR initiatives but in a limited capacity. For instance, if you donate $100,000 every year for animal welfare, you can donate $50,000 this year. There is no big or small when it comes to doing good.
Identify Affordable Initiatives
If you aren’t in a financial position to support your CSR initiatives, look for affordable alternatives. As discussed, there are a dozen ways to be socially responsible. If philanthropic donations are affecting your bottom line, you can halt your donations for a while and shift your CSR activities to less costly methods, such as volunteering and offering free service.
For instance, suppose there are a lot of homeless people in your area. You can organize a program every six months where you donate food and new clothes to them.
Restructure Your CSR Strategy
If CSR is an essential aspect of your business plan, you might want to revamp your strategy regularly, especially when business is slow.
Here’s how you can come up with a new CSR plan.
- Identify Core Competencies: You can inarguably choose from myriad initiatives to support, but your CSR efforts will be the most effective if you select causes that align with your company’s core competencies.
- Keep Customers in Mind: Always choose causes that matter to your customers. Since customers prefer purchasing from socially responsible organizations, you want to make sure your customers realize what you are doing for the greater good.
- Make Your Employees Proud: Your CSR initiatives should not just satisfy your customers. They should make your employees proud.
- Constantly Measure ROI: Companies must consider CSR as a part of their corporate strategy and evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of their CSR efforts.
Many companies are adopting CSR, but the commitment to being socially responsible could be challenging when business isn’t good. By staying flexible and continuously revamping your CSR strategy, you can adhere to your CSR initiatives without affecting your company’s bottom line.
What steps would you take to remain socially responsible in times of an economic downturn?