Definition Of Social Responsibility
Social Responsibility refers to individual or corporate acts meant to benefit (or at least not harm) the community. That is, carrying out personal or business practices that have a social and beneficial purpose. Let’s start by differentiating two main clusters:
- Individual: a person can try to be a little bit more responsible everyday with small or big deeds. He could recycle, for example. Otherwise, he could contribute to carbon emission-reduction by using public transportation. In summarize, the way someone can make a difference largely depends on the causes he supports.
- Corporations: nowadays stakeholders all over the world expect their favorite brands to engage in some sort of social activities.
Breaking Down Social Responsibility
Responsibility is an auto-explanatory term. Framed in a social context, nonetheless, it can branch out to different directions. From an individual standpoint, being social responsible means engaging in activities whose purpose is to bring benefits to the community. That is, reducing energy consumption at home, recycling, carpooling etc. All these small gestures express the intention to further a social and noble cause.
In a way, responsibility could also refer to how rich entrepreneurs, famous people or event politicians – whoever has influence and large capitals – respond to urgent issues and contribute to the global welfare. The way they can achieve these goals are different: from cash or in-kind donations to cause promotion and endorsement or even through the establishment of foundations. The latter can be either private or public, depending on the main financing source.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Let’s switch to a business scenario. Nowadays, corporations are expected to act more and more as good responsible citizens rather than abstract legal entities. As a matter of fact, statistics say that 84% of consumers globally say that they buy responsible products when possible [For more insights, give a look at our blog article CSR, what is the impact on consumers?].
What does that mean? First, that the next main consumer group (millennials) value those brand that engage in social and charitable initiatives. Second, that CSR , besides the positive and beneficial impact, represents a powerful profit-driver and point of differentiation. Companies that display a genuine interest for social causes and advocate for them, in fact, can look at a sustainable and brighter future.
Furthermore, more and more companies are incorporating CSR into successful and purpose-driven business models. Take TOMS, for example, global shoe designer and retailer. They came up with the “One-for-One” idea, that is, for every pair of shoe they sell they would give one to a child in need. Over the years they enrich and extend this concept to other areas of interest. This example takes the name of cause-related marketing, which consists of furthering and advocating a cause through the pursuing of a company’s very core business.
Other kinds of CSR activities are:
- Corporate Social Marketing
- Cause promotion
- Corporate Philanthropy
- Corporate volunteering
- Social responsible business practices
Benefits of CSR
- Social impact: helping social projects achieve their mission by donation or proactive participation can boost their impact.
- Brand image: standing out as a noble and committed corporate citizen can improve your reputation.
- Customer loyalty: people love brands who are involved in social activities and they are more inclined to buy from them in the future.
- Differentiation: living in a period where the competition is tight almost in every market, gaining the reputation of a kind and caring corporation can help you differentiate.