I know that Corporate Social Responsibility is a bit of a buzzword. You’d be forgiven for putting your hands over your ears and waiting for it to go away.
If you were to do that, I suspect you’d be making a mistake. In the current climate, demonstrating a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility could be the difference between you and the competition.
Increase your local profile
Even if your business is global, you’re part of a local community. Multinationals can attract impressive national press coverage, SMEs less so. Positive coverage in the local press will bring you the right kind of attention when it comes to working with local businesses.
As we all know, any kind of marketing needs to be consistent and CSR is no exception. Regular, small projects will keep you front of mind. They’ll also increase your network and, potentially, your level of referrals, simply because your name becomes more familiar.
Build trust with your customers
Whatever your profession, there is bound to be a joke about it. I used to collect lawyer jokes when I was still in practice. “Why don’t sharks eat solicitors? Professional courtesy.” It’s still a classic.
The thing is, jokes aside, the perceived gap between professional advisors and the general public is very real. There are people who genuinely believe that professional people are out to cheat them or fob them off. Doctors are referred to as ‘quacks’ and the term ‘clever lawyer’ isn’t meant in a good way. We’re told that people don’t believe in experts any longer.
I’m not sufficiently naïve to think that a bit of charity work is going to overcome all that in a single stroke. But it can help. A proper Corporate Social Responsibility programme shows that you’re prepared to invest in your local community. It begins to break down the barrier between ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Attract the best talent
Of course, CSR isn’t all about customers. There’s some evidence to suggest that participating in CSR projects regularly increases employee satisfaction levels. Happy employees are more loyal and a better advert for your business. They’ll put more effort into delivering excellent work for your customers. That pays dividends when you’re looking for repeat custom.
An employee who feels valued can also help you to attract the best new talent. Whilst traditional networking still has its place, online platforms give your staff the opportunity to speak out anonymously. www.Glassdoor.com allows prospective employees to check anonymous reviews from current and former staff. Do you know what’s being said about your business?
Corporate Social Responsibility in action
So how does it work? If you’ve never been involved in CSR before, where do you start?
Try contacting a local charity to ask if there’s a one off project that they need help with. If a single project goes well that can build into a longer term relationship. Allow your staff time away from the office to get involved in other initiatives. You can arrange group appointments to donate blood, get involved in street collections or organise a coffee morning for any number of charities.
Are you already involved in CSR or are your New Year efforts going to include it? Let me know in the comments below.