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There’s no more room for greenwashing

In this digital age where there is nowhere to hide, there are greater expectations for companies to do better for the planet and for CEOs to be purpose-led. Sangeeta Waldron explains the right way to accomplish it.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Let’s cut to the chase: one thing the global coronavirus pandemic has done is accelerate the demand for companies to be purpose-led and take corporate social responsibility seriously.

It has strengthened the need for CEOs to actively consider CSR and ensure it is a critical part of a company’s performance and reputation, which has also become an important issue for investors and management.

Business leaders are realising that an effective CSR goal needs to be much more than a feel-good press release for prospective customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders; it can have a significant and positive impact on the bottom line.

Today, many businesses across different sectors have begun to publicly report CSR-related activities to showcase their interest, investment and commitment to society. A company with strong CSR values will have a high degree of transparency and enjoy greater trust, which is naturally attractive to consumers and employees. It also indicates that the senior management team understands the value of non-financial issues to a company’s valuation.

Sustainable business values act as a moral compass, enhancing trust with your workforce and fostering brand loyalty with your customers.

It’s true to say that, over the years, CSR has suffered with too many companies having used it to greenwash inherently unsustainable business models with cheap platitudes of ‘caring for the environment’. However, today’s consumers are smarter, demanding more than surface-level approaches.

So when a business or brand puts ‘purpose and sustainability’ authentically at the centre of its business and strategy, it will automatically gain respect in the marketplace. This in turn will generate positive word-of-mouth, influence higher sales, enhance employee loyalty and attract better talent. Plus, CSR activities that focus on sustainability issues can lower costs and improve efficiencies in the long term.

There is enough proof that when your CSR initiatives are set, and are firmly integrated with your brand values and business strategy, they help a business create the right kind of partnerships and collaborations. Sustainable business values act as a moral compass, enhancing trust with your workforce and fostering brand loyalty with your customers.

Building corporate social responsibility into your strategy

As most corporate efforts to date have been neither strategic nor well communicated, it’s important to recognise that having a raft of CSR programs is just the first step. To be effective – and to reap the potential benefits – companies need to do more than ‘good’ in their communities.

  • Be incorporated into the overall business strategy alongside marketing, branding, research and development, talent management etc
  • Go beyond ‘doing good’ – it must tell the company or brand story
  • Be aligned with the core business objectives and competencies
  • Be founded in sincerity and demonstrate a genuine commitment to the greater good
  • Have local, regional or global impact
  • Be created with longevity in mind – for good times and bad

Read next: 10 of the world’s most sustainable businesses today

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