Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the hottest trends in business. Today, brands can’t simply sell a product or service; they should also support a cause to stay competitive. Cone Communications' Ebiquity Global CSR Study showed it's a fact that 84 percent of consumers seek out ethical products whenever possible, and Neilsen Research says 55 percent are willing to pay more money for those products. With mindful consumers increasingly paying attention to the ethics of the brands they buy from, having a quality CSR program is more important for running a business than ever. Plus, keeping customers happy is just one of the many benefits of CSR. Companies with social responsibility programs perform better than those without, in a multitude of ways.

Importance of Social Responsibility

There are many reasons for the importance of CSR in business. Today, 93 percent of the world’s top companies release annual CSR reports. These companies likely aren’t participating in CSR programs for altruistic reasons alone. The fact is, over the past few decades, a large amount of research has shown that corporate social responsibility benefits employees, customers and businesses alike.

Attract and Retain Top Employees

One of the biggest corporate social responsibility benefits is the ability to attract and retain high-caliber employees. One recent survey found that 72 percent of graduating students claimed they were seeking jobs where they could make an impact. Because employees are looking for careers with meaning, a company with a successful CSR program can attract the top available talent.

Even more impressively, companies with solid CSR programs see increased engagement and retention rates among employees. These companies also get more creativity and improved work results from employees. This is likely because workers are more willing to personally identify with companies they view as ethical. And many employees are therefore willing to work harder and even make sacrifices for a responsible company.

Keep Customers Engaged

Customers care about the footprint of the products they buy these days. By engaging in CSR programs, you are sending a message to your customers that your company cares about the larger community, not just profits. This makes customers care about your brand and want to engage more with you. Further, a customer is more likely to share and recommend a product that he believes to come from a responsible, ethical brand.

Maintain Positive Brand Image

One huge benefit of socially responsible marketing is that it improves your brand image. Research shows that 42 percent of how a consumer feels about a brand is based on its CSR. What’s more, companies with high reputation scores retain customers that are willing to buy, recommend, invest in and share products with others.

Ultimately, consumers want to feel good about the products they buy. They want to know that the companies they patronize are doing good in the world. The more you can improve your brand image, the more customers will become brand ambassadors for you. This gives your business much-coveted, word-of-mouth marketing.