Are you responsible?
1 April 2005 | 0
As far as companies are concerned, pledging to ‘give back to the community’ in some way in 2004 might be as far as such resolutions will go.
The term corporate social responsibility, or CSR, may seem like nothing more than a vague corporate buzzword that helps businesses feel good about themselves. The EU has defined CSR as ‘A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’
In our feature on sponsorship, it is suggested that corporate donations are a good way of gaining short-term publicity and building goodwill towards your brand. For instance, donating IT equipment to worthy causes such as charities, voluntary organisations or community projects can build a positive association with your brand in the minds of users.
This can be taken much further, however. A properly developed CSR model or strategy can help instil more structure and purpose in a firm’s obligations to its employees, its community and the environment.
Companies often cite bureaucracy, time and cost as the major obstacles to getting more involved in activities that benefit the community. As a result, such activities are often fragmented and informal, making them seem peripheral and unimportant, rather than an integral part of business.
Salesforce.com’s charitable foundation, launched in Ireland, works by donating 1 per cent each of Salesforce.com’s profits, equity and employee time to community projects. Such a structured model works because it creates business benefits, such as increasing staff loyalty and morale, and generating goodwill towards a company.
However, it doesn’t matter what activity you engage in, as long as it can tie in with business benefits. Whether it’s a charity fund raising event, making sure your IT products are accessible to people with disabilities, or donating employee time or resources to charitable projects to which you know you can provide a valuable contribution, do get more involved in your community this year.
As for me, I’ve pledged to join Data Solutions in their next charity fun-run in 2004. Better starting training now!
John Cradden, EDITOR