Corporate Social Responsibility, which is often called CSR, is a business term that refers to the actions a for-profit business takes to improve the lives of people within a community. These initiatives can not only benefit the community and the environment, but they can also turn out to be a smart business move. Before you consider a CSR initiative for your business, it's important to weigh the pros and cons.
Pro: It's The Right Thing To Do
Not only is helping people the most obvious reason to incorporate CSR into your business plan, but it may also be the most important. Businesses bear a lot of responsibility for some of the social and environmental problems that the world faces today. As such, many believe that the right thing for corporations to do is to give back in some way. If you care about the mark your business leaves in this world, CSR is a great way to ensure you make a positive impact.
CSR is also a powerful way to fight for human rights. Because corporations are powerful entities in our society, they can make a real impact in the lives of people who can use the help. By incorporating certain CSR programs, you can contribute to making the world a better place for those in need.
Con: It Can Look Fake
If you want your CSR program to truly help people and your company, your heart has to be in the right place. Today's consumers are savvy and crave authenticity. If they see your CSR initiative as a scam, it could backfire. Up to 80 percent of people believe that most CSR efforts are just ploys for cash. If that's how you think of your own CSR, you can bet consumers will see it, too.
Pro: CSR Builds Trust
The relationship between a business and its customers hinges on trust. If consumers have no faith in your corporation, they will likely abandon your company for another brand. CSR programs can help you show your customers that you care. In return, you can benefit from increased levels of trust. Good faith can translate into more business.
On a macro level, CSR can build trust between consumers in general and corporate America. Currently, companies hold a lot of power within our society. However, if consumers start believing that these companies are not acting with the society's interests in mind, they may push for regulations that limit the power businesses have. CSR initiatives build trust and keep consumers from demanding such action.
Con: Many Businesses Put the Cost on the Consumers
One popular way for businesses to implement CSR is to ask for donations at the cash register. While these donations do indeed go to people in need, the money doesn't come from the business. The customers put forth all of the value while the business gets the reputation boost. While this can work for some businesses, this strategy can make some consumers wary. It's better if you can find a way to put forth money or goods from your company.
Pro: You Get to Pick Your Passion
There are many ways that corporations can improve the world. Whether you're passionate about the environment, human rights, animal rights or something else, there is likely an opportunity for you. If your target customers are passionate about the same issue, this can be a win-win-win for the consumers, the people you help and your business.