Why Companies Should Consider Starting a Corporate Social Responsibility Program

Corporate Social Responsibility is a business practice that refers to the ethical and sustainable management of economic, environmental, and social aspects of a company.

Social Responsibility has been shown to provide many benefits for companies like increased employee morale, better public relations, improved customer service ratings, increased innovation, and lower costs due to reduced waste.

In this article, I’ll look at what CSR is, look at why a business should have a CSR program, and where to begin.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

CSR is an acknowledgment by a business that it has a responsibility to the society that exists around it.

Second, it is a series of actions that a business takes to support that responsibility.

Social Responsibility is about the sustainable management of the economic, environmental, and/or social aspects of a company.

A private company will not be able to support every societal issue, but it can be selective in supporting initiatives that the company and its employees are passionate about.

One example of a company CSR program is USAA and its Military Family Relief Initiative.

It contributed $30 million contributions to 24 nonprofit organizations to assist the military community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It did things like “enhance veteran and spouse employment prospects, assist with childcare costs for junior enlisted military families, support virtual delivery of education and offer emotional support for military children.”

The military community is USAA’s primary customer and many of its employees are connected to the military community, so this is an initiative that supports its customers, employees, and the overall mission of USAA.

Another example of a company CSR program is TOMS.

TOMS is expanding its commitment to the environment by using more earth-friendly materials and processes, using sustainable cotton, greener packaging, reducing its carbon footprint, and increasing its transparency with annual reports.

This is not only benefits society but is an additional incentive to purchase for its target customer.

Why Does Business Need CSR?

The primary purpose of a for-profit business is to generate revenue, but it can have more than just profit on its mind.

It should think of itself as an integral part of society and be willing to assist in order to maintain healthy relationships and benefit those that it serves.

While there are some CSR programs that are initiated entirely out of a leader’s passion for a specific topic, many CSR programs are developed because the initiatives are something that its customers would strongly support.

In the case of USAA, its primary customer is the military community.

Its employees have strong connections to the military.

Its Military Family Relief Initiative makes business sense while supporting this community.

In the case of TOMS, its target customers are environmentally friendly and actively seek out companies that are like-minded.

The benefit of CSR programs is not just about giving back, although that is a great benefit, it’s also about the bottom line and connecting to your target customers in a way that makes good business sense.

Where Do We Begin?

When starting a CSR program, it’s best to take a good look at yourself and your customer.

Ask yourself what are the areas that both the company and its customers have common ground.

What initiatives can the company support that has a positive impact on the community, society, and has the added benefit of being aligned with your target customers?

Remember, there is no “right” way to do CSR.

If you’re a company that makes products and has many customers, then partnering with local schools or giving back to the community in some way would be great CSR initiatives.

If you have employees that are energized about an issue and it doesn’t necessarily fit with your target customer, consider doing it anyway.

No matter what path you go down, make sure that the support is real and the passion is authentic.

Your community and customers will see right through a program that is done only for the purpose of “checking the box,” but will become energized when they recognize real support by your organization for a specific issue.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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