Corporate Social Responsibility | Definitions, Tips, Benefits & Examples

Explore the definition of corporate social responsibility, as well as great brand examples of CSR.

May 12, 2021

Responsible corporations are the expectation today, not the exception. And corporations are finding that improving the environment, communities and their own workplaces are making them all around better brands. We explore why and how.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business model in which for-profit companies seek ways to create social and environmental benefits while pursuing organizational goals, like revenue growth and maximizing shareholder value.

Corporate responsibility ensures that a company is socially and environmentally responsible when dealing with stakeholders. It is simply business practices that benefit employees, stakeholders, society, and the environment. While CSR is most often related to large corporations, small businesses or start-ups can also benefit from socially responsible practices.

Tips for Implementing CSR Activities in Your Business

Think Local Over Global

Support more local causes than global. Your team will most likely be more motivated to supporting a project in your local community where they can see the difference rather than a bigger cause.

Get Employees Involved from the Outset

Let your employees lead or choose your involvement. Your employees may already be involved in charities and volunteer work, and will value the chance to continue this support.

Share the Rewards

Share the success of your CSR project. Your employees will share in the pride and will be motivated to spread the word in turn.

Show Commitment

Ensure that senior management participate and demonstrate commitment. Half-hearted CSR projects might not work out and risk the possibility of customers and clients thinking the project is simply a marketing ploy.

Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility for Businesses

Boost Your Brand Reputation

CSR is an excellent way to boost your business reputation and market value, thereby creating increased awareness of people to your brand and an effective way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Encourage Employee Engagement

Engaging your employees in your CSR strategy help increase employee engagement through a sense of belonging and shared values. It also begins a chain reaction that eventually leads to increased profit.

Improve Consumer Perception

Effective CSR practices help shape positive consumer perceptions of brands and companies. Consumers favor brands they perceive as “good”; consequently, they are more likely to trust, buy, and promote them.

Team Building

CSR promotes development among your employees who volunteer or engage in charitable projects. Such projects open your employee’s new opportunity to learn new skills like public speaking, project management, creativity, flexibility, fundraising, etc. that they can bring back to impact at work and the community positively.

Professional Development

Skills-based volunteerism allows employees to utilize their skills and develop professional and leadership skills while providing much-needed help in the community.

Increased Transparency

Being transparent, open and honest in your marketing effort and policies not just to customers but also employees lead to higher employee morale, stronger customer loyalty, better collective knowledge, higher productivity, less turnover, and increased appeal to socially responsible investors and portfolio managers.

5 Great Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility

Lego

As part of Lego’s CSR, the company’s energy consumption is 100% balanced by renewable energy, and the brand has pledged to make all core Lego products from sustainable materials by 2030.

Lego has also partnered with the WWF’s Climate Savers Programme to work on additional climate targets, is dedicated to promoting childhood learning, and works to make their workplaces “inclusive, safe and motivating.”

Adidas

Adidas has committed to using 100% recycled polyester in their products by 2024. In the meantime, they’ve already started making shoes with mushrooms and working to save our oceans.

Levi’s

Levi’s made a big entrance into the circular economy with its recommerce and buyback program, Levi’s Secondhand.

As Vogue puts it: “Levi’s is the first denim brand of its size to create a buyback program like this and effectively take responsibility for the full ‘life cycle’ of its garments. It’s an example of true circularity.”

P&G

P&G started their sustainability work in 2010, and have set new goals for 2030 to “not just to reduce our footprint and conserve precious resources, but to help restore the world, ultimately leaving it better than we found it.”

Included in these goals are a commitment that 100% of packaging from P&G brands will be recyclable or reusable by 2030. The corporation also intends to change consumer behavior as well, aiming to “promote conversations, influence attitudes, inspire behavior change.”

Zappos

Zappos for Good gets consumers involved by incentivizing the recycling or donation of worn shoes with free shipping; so far they’ve collected over one million items through this program.

The recycling program is one aspect of the company’s multifaceted approach to “become the world’s most community-focused large company.”

The roles of responsible corporations are still evolving, and a lot of good has been done along the way. As more corporations join these initiatives — and find even better ways of improving the world around them — this good will continue in unique and novel ways.

NEXT STEPS

Want to Make CSR Part of Your Brand's Entry into the Circular Economy?

FIND OUT HOW

More Strategies to Build Your Brand