PR Word of the Week #14: Corporate Social Responsibility

The past few weeks I have been talking about the multiple “bottom lines” that exist in a company’s measurement of success.

The bottom line is the fiscal measurement, the double bottom line measures a company’s social impact and, finally, the triple bottom line measures a company’s environmental impact.

One word encompasses all these activities: corporate social responsibility, or better known as CSR.

Corporate Social Responsibility

(ˈkôrp(ə)rit ˈsōSHəl riˌspänsəˈbilətē)
noun

Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, social performance, or sustainable responsible business) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere.

See more at Canadian Business.

Example

Starbucks Canada is an excellent example of a company that has dived deep in to the realm of CSR. Starbucks Canada has five categories of CSR they uphold to:

Community

  • Community Service
  • Youth
  • Starbucks Foundation
  • Ethos Water Fund

Environment

  • Recycling
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Green Building
  • Climate Change

Ethical sourcing

  • Starbucks Canada is committed to buying and serving responsibily grown and ethically fair trade coffe, cocoa, tea, etc.
  • Farmer support

Wellness

  • Supporting policies and efforts to improve the health of the community and their customers

Diversity 

  • Welcoming a diversity of ideas and employees

I realize Starbucks Canada is a large company and has the money and resources to have such an active CSR portfolio. However, even small businesses can take just one bullet point from above and use it to make their business more responsible, and create a closer relationship with consumers.

Why CSR

The benefits of CSR are the same as the double and triple bottom line.

  • Consumers are more likely to relate with you if they feel they share common values with your company.
  • You can create a relationship with these consumers, which can lead to exclusivity among your consumers, where your customers only go to you and no one else.
  • When a consumer relates with a company with similar values, they tend to share that love with others, which leads to new and more consumers.

As communicators, if our goal is to increase a company’s bottom line, then we should always be thinking about how we can incorporate a company’s CSR initiatices in to our strategies.

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