Consumers are attracted to brands that stand for something and support a cause when it comes to giving. In recent years, the topics of sustainability and being environmentally friendly while being a consumer has become very popular.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an important driving force for many brands and has helped them create strong relationships with loyal customers. CSR is a business model where companies integrate social and environmental concerns into business operations. If you’re a company that doesn’t have a CSR program, the holiday season is the perfect time to implement one. Today, consumers are much more interested in purchasing products from companies that act ethically and responsibly within the environment. TOMS is a great example of a company that promotes ethical and social good. When TOMS was created, their mission was to match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. Today, TOMS gives shoes to children in more than 50 countries and partners with charities that incorporate shoes into their education, health, hygiene, and community development programs.
With Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday all coming and going, it’s important to know how your company can leverage CSR to build a strong relationship with your client base. Holiday marketing creates the perfect opportunity to take your CSR program to the next level and show your customers that your organization’s values align with your brands. Use GROWL’s guide to learn how to leverage CSR and avoid greenwashing.
Authenticity vs. Greenwashing
Being authentic when it comes to CSR is imperative because lying about social responsibility can damage an organization’s reputation, which can be nearly impossible to rebuild. Especially during the holidays, people’s hearts grow warmer, and there is a desire to give back to the community and the members of that community. Some organizations damage their reputation by making empty promises they can’t or won’t keep.
Greenwashing is when a brand markets itself as environmentally friendly or sustainable without taking steps to actually shift its impact. An example of greenwashing in holiday marketing could be a company that promises to do a community cleanup day or volunteers at a soup kitchen, but they don’t fulfill those promises. It’s obvious that the company was using this as a marketing tactic to gain attention to their brand. Consumers don’t like being lied to, and they will most likely view this brand as dishonest and unreliable. Many companies will hop on the “ecofriendly” bandwagon to attract consumer attention and make more money. Greenwashing is a strategy that might seem like a good tactic to attract more consumers in the short term, but it will backfire in the long term.
Follow these tips to remain authentic and avoid greenwashing tactics:
Be honest with consumers
Organizations should never communicate something they’re not. Making promises to consumers that your company cannot keep will break their trust, and losing their loyalty will greatly impact your reputation.
If your organization doesn’t have any CSR initiatives in place yet, be open to communicating how you intend to tackle those issues. Consumers will appreciate your transparency and genuine efforts to do better.
Measure your impact
Keeping track of the social and environmental impact of your organization’s CSR activities will help maintain accountability and outline if your initiatives are performing as expected. Doing so will also reduce the risk of greenwashing and will help generate more trust.
Leverage CSR Correctly
On a broad scale, CSR benefits the environment, society, a company’s employees, and the company itself. Diving deeper, there are key elements of CSR programs that, when leveraged correctly, can produce great benefits. Prioritizing environmental concerns, getting involved in local communities, ethical labor practices, and economic responsibility is a good place to start.
Many businesses have large carbon footprints, so implementing efforts to reduce them is beneficial to the environment. These efforts could include cutting down on waste and making recycling a priority within your company.
One way to demonstrate your commitment to corporate social responsibility is to get involved with your local community and participate in volunteering events. Participate in local community events, buy from local suppliers, and get involved with community decisions to show you’re serious about your company’s CSR program.
Ethical labor practices include providing your employees with a safe and healthy workplace environment. Listening to your employees and implementing their ideas is another practice that will help boost employee morale and workplace productivity.
Economic responsibility refers to financial practices in business. While all companies are legally required to pay taxes, companies with a well-established CSR program pay close attention to how surrounding communities benefit from their tax dollars.
Don’t Fake it
It’s no longer good enough for businesses to claim they are eco-friendly or socially responsible; they must back up these claims and prove that they are. Younger generations within society are demanding that organizations become more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. If businesses want to stay relevant and be successful, implementing a CSR program is essential.
Ready to implement a strong CSR program into your organization? Contact GROWL today!