"Conducting your business in a socially responsible way is good business. It means you can attract better employees and the customers will know what you stand for and like you for it" Anthony Burns, CEO, Ryder Systems
Business entities are no more considered as profit churning machines. It is in their benefit to take care of all their stakeholders to exist in the society that nurtures them and allows them to prosper.
Being a socially responsible business entails that the enterprise operates ethically and sustainably taking into account the environmental and social impacts of its policies and processes.
The 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study found that 91% of global consumers expect businesses to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues, wherein 84% say they seek out responsible products wherever possible.
As these statistics suggest, consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of social responsibility and actively seek products from businesses that operate ethically.
An entity that behaves responsibly towards society is rewarded manifold:
- It improves its public image and creates brand value, known among its consumers, not just for product quality but also for its practices.
- Contrary to popular belief, being socially responsible is not only rewarded by customers but also makes it a pocket-friendly exercise, if appropriately strategized. It may churn out more robust financial performance through eco-efficiency.
- It gives the entity a substantial advantage over its competitors. Customers are conscious nowadays, and they seek out products that are manufactured by socially responsible companies in comparison with their competitors who resort to unethical, environmentally destructive means to create products.
- Not just consumers, investment community also seeks out socially responsible companies who have the right image in the eyes of their consumers. A socially responsible company is considered more reliable and sustainable by investors.
- Socially reasonable companies receive much positive public attention and gain publicity by word of mouth.
- Employees also find themselves comfortable to commit themselves with socially responsible entities. Employees feel proud of being associated with an entity that is well known in society for its ethical practices.
Social responsibility is not restricted to tax planning, nor is the sole responsibility of giant corporations. Though Corporate Social Responsibility is mandatory for certain companies under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, there is much more to social responsibility than what meets the eye.
Social responsibility is not just related to giving annual donations to a cause or a relief fund. It is about imbibing those practices in your daily business activities that culminate into society-friendly products through sustainable means. Ideal CSR relates to those activities that the company can find a connection with, and in the long run, can derive benefits out of it.
A company that associates itself with social causes on a regular business is respected by its local community that spreads these positive vibes further, leading to good publicity of the business. CSR need not be completely aloof from the business that is performed by the company a good CSR strategy stitches the company's goals with socially responsible activities in such a way, that company end up multiplying its profits in the longer term as a result of those activities.
These activities could be injected in business from community involvement to human resource development to environmental contribution to product contribution and customer relations to rural development or even shareholders relations.
What can Strategy India do for direct selling - MLM entities?
- Suggest ways to perform CSR that will comply with the laws in force
- Help the companies recognize that they need to engage in giving back to society, even when it is not mandatory wherein, after understanding their business model. SI can help highlight the company's ethical practices and improvise on others to optimize the benefit derived out of a company's functions.
- Discuss with the companies about their practices and way of the production cycle, distribution, customer engagement, etc.
- Deploy a fulltime resource (CSR strategy provider - Business analyst) who can suggest ways in which the companies can imbibe the CSR practices without diverting the focus from the core business activities or help the company scout and verify the credentials, the works of the companies/NGOs/societies etc. who exclusively undertake such activities on company's behalf. That way, a company will be contributing to the community without dedicating permanent staff to perform such functions.
- Suggest ways of advertising and emphasizing these aspects of CSR adopted by the company to build positive brand value, via marketing, via reports and other details that they send out to their investors and lenders.
CSR can go a long way in building a good reputation and enhancing the brand image of a company if done rightly.