Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a popular term that is occasionally tossed around in business meetings in an effort to help a brand become marketable. However, when it comes to public relations and cultivating a positive reputation, CSR can go quite a long way. By definition, CSR is the voluntary actions that a company implements as it pursues its mission and fulfills its perceived obligations to stakeholders, including employees, communities, the environment, and society as a whole. These days, more and more people see an added value on aligning themselves with businesses that prioritize CSR.
McDonald’s is a solid example of this. Its 2020 CSR goals included increasing energy efficiency in company-owned restaurants by 20 percent in seven of its top markets, increasing in-restaurant recycling to 50 percent and minimizing waste in nine of its top markets, and serving 100 percent more fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy or whole grains in nine of its top markets. The restaurant has clearly identified its CSR initiatives.
We’ll come back to McDonald’s in a moment. Let’s discuss the fundamentals of CSR.
The CSR pyramid indicates economic responsibilities as its base followed by legal responsibilities, ethical responsibilities, and then philanthropic responsibilities at the top. With CSR, financial performance is a guiding evaluative criterion for CSR effectiveness. So, keeping that in mind, due to the fact that the fast food chain is so profitable, it can put the money behind its CSR initiates and practices. Moreover, the company’s CSR could be viewed as ethical in that its working to minimize waste in its top markets and use 100 percent of its fiber-based packaging from recycled sources. In regards to the philanthropic portion of the pyramid, the company has been known to donate millions to those in need. The voluntary actions of McDonald’s fulfill obligations to the environment, the community, and society as a whole. These initiatives are definitely CSR and can be used as a model on how to handle CSR correctly.
So, how can you use CSR to help your business? Do you know where to start?
- Launch a social undertaking – What is your company’s mission statement? Can it be applied to the community? Think about what you’re passionate about and work to do something about it. If your mission statement aligns with environmentalism, then perhaps you can launch a recycling drive. If it aligns with helping the disadvantaged, then work to raise funds for a shelter.
- Be active in the community – Some potential clients really like to see companies helping in the community. There are a number of boards – both local and national – that are looking for members and volunteers. Do some research and join them if interested.
- Integrate your strategy with PR – As indicated before, ethical responsibilities are a component of CSR. Being ethical is also a part of PR. Blend the two. With any luck, you may be able to use this as a potential pitch to share with reporters.
CSR is more than just a term. Knowing how to utilize it for business can lead to amplified exposure, new leads, and a positive reputation. Remember to apply the CSR pyramid in putting together a strategy. By doing so, you’ll increase your chances of garnering success for your business.