Businesses that take a proactive stance when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) understand that making a difference in the lives of others creates a reputation that goes before them. They initiate programs aimed at making a difference in the community or in the world at large. Big name companies like Target, Birchbox and Disney are known for their proactive CSR stance.

Practicing a Proactive Stance

Companies that practice a proactive stance exceed the legal minimums in terms of social responsibility, as they think ahead about issues that matter or potential problems. Their proactive strategy could involve providing funds to help people achieve goals, such as Birchbox's initiative with The Future Starts Now Fund. The proactive stance might have to do with volunteerism or fostering community, like the practices of Target and Disney.

Proactive Versus Reactive Stances

Companies that practice a reactive stance instead of a proactive stance wait for complaints to come in before making changes to their policies. They might wait for a product to malfunction or cause harm, or they may barely follow the letter of the law in terms of caring for the community.

Tobacco companies are often described as having a defensive stance when it comes to corporate social responsibility because they follow the law in terms of warning labels and disclaimers in the United States, but in countries where they are not required to issue such labeling, they do not do so.

Benefits of Being Proactive

It feels better to work with and for a corporation that practices a proactive strategy when it comes to CSR. A proactive stance brings purpose to individual and communal work and offers several other benefits, including:

  • Improved public image.
  • Increased internal flexibility.
  • Fostering a culture of innovation.
  • Building bridges that lead to increased profits.
  • Strengthened community relations.

Proactive CSR Example

Companies that practice proactive CSR go above and beyond when it comes to social responsibility. Their purpose includes making a real difference in the lives of others as part of their business strategy and structure.

Birchbox's The Future Starts Now Fund is a proactive CSR example because they provide funding to eliminate the hurdles people face in trying to reach their goals. They could provide funding to someone looking to become qualified to provide services to victims of human trafficking, fund someone's education or help people get the equipment necessary to start a new career.

Disney's Accommodative Stance

Disney's accommodative stance is a shining example of making a difference in the community. Their 2018 CSR report highlights their values of making a difference when it comes to the environment, volunteer hours and healthy living. They set targets in each of these areas and then review their progress at the end of every year.

Their programs include things like Disney tickets in exchange for volunteer hours, reducing their own impact on the environment and providing healthy food options to guests. These efforts stand out when it comes to consumer experiences, especially in the healthy-living area. Many guests with food allergies rave about the ease of dining on Disney properties.

Proactive Strategy Planning

Deciding to implement proactive strategy planning into your business structure and plans can help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to CSR. Make sure to include these three factors in your planning:

  • Vision: Ensure that you and your organization share the same vision for making a difference in the community.

  • Research: Find out which issues are likely to impact your business and start crafting a proactive strategy based on those findings.

  • Stakeholders: Include stakeholders like customers, suppliers and investors to maximize positive relationships and publicity for your new stance.