The general consensus is that organisations who have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) high on their agenda will improve profitability. The question for many organisations, particularly those who do not or are budget constrained, is how much effort needs to go into CSR in order to gain benefit. Ron Robin’s ‘Does Corporate Social Responsibility Increase Profits?, offers the insight that even the smallest amount of positive CSR engagement can lead to increased corporate financial performance although, as he points out, the overall effect may not be as large as hoped for.
In Q1 2015 RepTrak conducted a survey of the world’s top 100 customers and based on seven dimensions they found that companies who invest in a strong reputation realise tangible business benefits, citing that their portfolio of top companies have outperformed the S&P500 index since 2006. Furthermore more than 40% of your reputation is generated from the three CSR drivers: citizenship, governance and workplace.
My first job was in the mid 90’s for a global manufacturing organisation and at that time CSR was most definitely not high on the agenda. It was only after spending time in Australia from 2000 – 2009 that I began to get some insight of the benefits a robust CSR policy can bring to your organisation (Australia came 5th in KPMG’s 2013 survey of Corporate Social Responsibility of report quality by country). What I had started to notice was a rise from 2000 in how large corporate organisations started to properly focus on CSR as a key reporting measure. By the time I left Australia in 2009 every large organisation had a CSR policy and it was even included as a study section in my MBA at that time.
So why is a sales director writing about corporate social responsibility? Many of the studies available, including the two cited above, focus on some of the world’s largest companies but this does not make it any less relevant to the mid-market. RepTrak’s three CSR drivers are all predominantly internal factors that if managed appropriately lead to improved employee engagement and satisfaction. And it is a well-known fact that improved engagement and satisfaction may lead to a rise in productivity and as a result profitability should increase. As a sales director I am interested in sharing with any of my prospects and contacts different ways for positively impacting profitability.
A secondary reason for writing about CSR is how it relates to social media and how visible all organisations are today, much more so than 15 years ago when I went to Australia. Let me describe for you a real example. As part of Pulsant’s CSR strategy we work with a number of charities including one called Thrive. For three days this year employees of Pulsant have spent time digging allotments, mending sheds and performing general gardening activities. Pictures have been tweeted, Facebook has been updated and those people who participated in this charitable event have shared their experiences and in many cases those networks have shared information out to much broader networks. As a result Pulsant is building a reputation in the market as a managed hosting provider that engages in charitable activities, giving back to the community. Furthermore our employees feel engaged with the organisation and benefit from the sense of wellbeing derived from helping other people. From a sales perspective, the majority of decision makers I interact with are actively engaged on social media. As a result, when they are researching products and services they find Pulsant and when they extend their research to social media they discover the softer side of Pulsant the organisation and those employees. People are not just buying from people any more, they are buying quality products and services from organisations they believe in. It is our job as employees of Pulsant to engage in building our reputation.
So just one small, charitable act can lead to greater employee engagement and a positive external view of your organisation and its products and services.
2015 GLOBAL CSR REPTRAK 100