By: Michele Egan
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a term that encompasses ways companies can take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their business. It includes sustainability, diversity and inclusion, human rights, ethical business practices, volunteerism, philanthropy, cause-related marketing and activism.
Companies focus on and practice corporate social responsibility using many different strategies. In fact, the CSR function may be based within human resources, business development, public relations, marketing or may even be a separate unit altogether.
Corporate social responsibility is important because companies have the resources needed for real social impact. Starbucks promises to be a socially responsible company by hiring 25,000 veterans before 2025. Coca-Cola continues to make strides in environmental issues by investing in trucks powered by alternative fuels to support its goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 25% in 2020.
Corporate social responsibility is rapidly evolving. Consumers and employees expect companies to take a leadership role in solving important societal issues and improving communities. TOMS is known for its business model of donating one pair of shoes for every pair sold. IKEA has given $2.3 million to bring electricity to one million people in India and East Africa.
A CSR program can boost employee recruitment and retention while improving a company’s reputation. In other words, doing good is good for business. This is sometimes referred to as Triple Bottom Line: people, planet and profit.
One of the most effective ways for companies to develop a CSR program is to partner with a nonprofit organization that matches the interest of its employees and customers. Abercrombie & Fitch launched a 5-year, $115 million partnership with SeriousFun Children’s Network to support community camps and programs for children with serious illnesses. LinkedIn opens the door to economic opportunity for refugees, helping them find jobs in their new countries.
According to a Nielsen survey, the Millennial generation helps drive brands toward social responsibility. 73% of Millennials prefer to work for socially responsible companies and 81% expect their brands to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. Gen Z also is motivated by purpose, with 30% already donating to charity.
The annual list of the world’s most reputable companies published by Reputation Institute features companies that deliver on corporate social responsibility. These companies have earned the trust of their customers, employees and investors and are perceived as having a greater purpose beyond profit. If a company does the right thing environmentally and socially, we tend to trust them to do the right thing in all situations.
The World’s Most Reputable Companies in 2019
- The Walt Disney Company
So, what are these companies doing right to earn this prestigious designation? Bosch invests half of its research and development budget in environmental protection technology. Netflix offers their employees 52 weeks of paid parental leave and took swift action against House of Cards star Kevin Spacey following sexual harassment allegations.
Michelin overhauled its sustainable development governance for better integration. Canon leads with integrity and its commitment to transparency, diversity and inclusion. Sony is at the forefront of environmental and educational science and technology for the next generation. Microsoft remains transparent in the face of product bugs and matches its employees’ passion for giving.
Adidas fights to preserve marine life through Run for the Oceans and is the leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The Walt Disney Company demonstrates its CSR commitment with its in-depth sustainability report available online in six languages. LEGO continues to build on its mission of education, sustainability and societal contributions.
Rolex, the most reputable company in the world for a record four years in a row, partners with high-profile people from sports, arts and science who embody the company’s reputation for excellence and also make positive contributions to society.