North Carolina Businesses for Social Responsibility

Our Vision:

NCBSR is an active network of forward-thinking North Carolina business leaders who are committed to "doing well by doing good" and to preserving North Carolina's quality of place.

Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship, Ethical Branding, and Impact Investing are all ways that the global and local business environments are changing for the better.

Through discussing levels and types of Corporate Social Responsibility,[1] how they correlate to maintaining global relationships, and exploring examples of impact investing and/or ethical branding, I conclude profitability and social responsibility are more inter-dependent rather than mutually exclusive.

There are plenty of Academic articles relating to corporate responsibility, Kanungo stated way back in ’93: “This is not to say that altruistic behavior is prevalent in business. In reality, it is relatively rare and certainly infrequently rewarded. […] In addition to the influence of these forces, altruism’s neglect can also be tied to national character. Specifically, America has promoted a psychology of the self that Edward Sampson describes as a ‘self-contained individualism’ (Kanungo & Conger, 1993).” Despite the changes and trends toward globalization the last twenty years, some still question whether profitability and social responsibility are mutually exclusive or work together to shape business culture.

Social responsibility is the pattern of choices an organization or individual makes to support and recognize the community, natural resources, or needs of others worldwide. Organizations may acknowledge and participate in promoting any one to all three areas of social responsibility which are: the organizations stakeholders (customers, employees & investors), the natural environment, and general social welfare (Griffin & Pustay, 2012).

Supporting stakeholders would include attempts to improve the work environment, add to profitability, or increase value of the product/service.

Being socially responsible with respect to the natural environment includes reducing global warming, reducing acid rain, adding to sustainability such as recycling, or any other business activity that is done differently because of the impact on the local or global environment. The area of general social welfare is a broad area for social responsibility that greatly depends on the perception of the participants as to what are acceptable social standards. This includes but is not limited to increasing nutrition and educational opportunities for those in underprivileged areas. Other ways to impact general social welfare could include basic human rights such as the right to vote and/or be treated with respect.

Businesses act socially responsible based on their mission statements and therefore the desired approaches to social responsibility vary similarly to individual’s varied beliefs regarding social engagement for a purpose. They could chose to take a defensive stance regarding social situations and do as little as possible. A good example would be an individual who volunteers because it is required by their church, elders, or a school they are attending. These people are less likely to involve themselves in bettering the community therefore they address the need only because it is an obstruction to a commitment they have made elsewhere. Obstructionist organizations and individuals will wait to be found out and accused of negligent behavior before acting or literally be legally forced into action regarding a social issue before they will act.

The next approach is a bit more involved, the defensive approach to CSR would be respecting the legal parameters that apply to your business yet nothing more than that. An individual would volunteer because he/she was legally required to or dispose of their refuse because they will face a fine if caught littering.

Further on the CSR continuum is accommodating, which refers to those who are meeting the requirements by law and going beyond legalities to get involved when the opportunity arises.

This happens in selected cases based on the firm’s mission and situation. For example, an individual who had a close relative that fought muscular dystrophy would be considered accommodating by volunteering his/her time to a local foundation or participating in a fundraiser for that cause. For the individual, this came up as an opportunity as the result of a situation that was close to the individual, therefore the accommodation of the social need is a result of the situation. Klein states, “The most important thing I’ve learned over the last year is that social change has real business value (Klein, 2012).” For a firm, this social need or situation that changes the business climate might be a very big opportunity to build relationships and develop a CSR plan which may also impact profitability and market share.

And finally, the highest level of engagement, is being proactive. This involves actively researching and searching the communities your business affects and those you do business in. An individual who was proactive toward social responsibility would seek out opportunities to be a servant to their local and global communities. In the examples of proactive social responsibility, most organizations set out to make a difference and therefore some of their commitment is evident in their mission statement and company objectives. They invest as much into seeking opportunities to make a difference as they do in seeking opportunities to make money. On this side of the continuum of Social Responsibility there is active investment and research contributed to socially responsible business practices.

Starbucks has 8,000 stores, in 34 countries that sell to 30 million customers each week (Starbucks Coffee, 2004, 2010). Their mission is to provide the highest quality coffee in an environment that is consistent worldwide and support the sustainability of their farmers.

Starbucks could be considered accommodating and even proactive in their responsibilities to stakeholders. They purchase coffee in 20-30 countries per year, as their buying agents spend 240/365 days per year on the road searching for the best coffee farms and developing relationships with customers (Starbucks Coffee, 2004, 2010).

Starbucks focuses on Ethical Branding and utilizes CSR principles to create programs such as CAFÉ Practices to ensure the sustainability of their suppliers through investing in the relationships and therefore developing an ethically recognized brand. CAFÉ Practices is a combination of goals and standards that Starbucks and Conservationists International created to support sustainability and improved growing practices for coffee farmers that supply Starbucks (Starbucks Coffee, 2004, 2010).

It involves mutually agreed upon fair pricing, economic transparency, socially responsible buying, and environmentally friendly expectations. These standards protect the farmer’s business and ensure that Starbucks can support their ethical branding with practices that respect the environment. This set of standards is monitored by a third party and attempts to deal with the crises faced by many coffee farmers due to overproduction. Farmers are failing due to some countries overproducing coffee and others producing and exporting coffee that were not in the market 15 years ago (Starbucks Coffee, 2004, 2010).

Starbucks builds and maintains relationships with stakeholders in many ways. They work to provide resources for the farmer’s community such as education, building schools and supplying teachers. They work with the local government to see where there are needs for that region. They even have an agronomist for their Costa Rican region, supporting farmers and showing a presence with a Farmer’s Support Center. (Starbucks Coffee, 2004, 2010)

The exchange of knowledge should be noted, for Starbucks gleans information as much as they educate, making the relationship mutually beneficial for all stakeholders. Recently they pledged to offer scholarships to their workers, raising the bar even higher.

Will the new CSRO be standing next to the COO or CFO at press conferences? Will this Chief Social Responsibility Officer individually manage the level of engagement opportunities for an organization and develop their CSR plan? The Chief Social Responsibility Officer would ensure that the social business practices are in line with all local/national legalities, support the stakeholders, and look for opportunities for the organization to develop more ways to create value, competitive advantage, and profits via social engagement with a purpose.

FSG’s Kramer states, “social change becomes part of the competitive equation – companies have to compete around their ability to improve social conditions and achieve social outcomes (Klein, 2012).”

Are profitability and social responsibility mutually exclusive? No. Because of the close ties between business practices, community, and natural resources, social responsibility becomes something that can be measured as much as profitability and contribute evenly to the value of the brand and the purpose, which then can affect profitability of an organization. Because of this, CSR and profitability can be inter-dependent in this global business climate.

There are even new measures of Social Responsibility, similar to GAAP for accounting, which is called GIIRS (TEDx, 2011). This set of standards was recently developed to provide metrics to measure a company’s CSR. This also helps stakeholders and investors see the CSR impact of an organization in a similar way Financial Statements paint a picture of a firm’s profitability. This points in many new directions for businesses to build their internal metrics from.

Through exploring these developing areas of business, I have found a sizable amount of recognized information, and my research confirms for me that profitability and social responsibility need not be considered mutually exclusive. The future of business and the global climate (socially and environmentally) will be greatly affected by the ability of firms, organizations, and individuals to create strategic/social alliances, develop impact investing, and implement socially responsible business practices.


LOTS OF COMPANIES GET SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY WRONG. HERE ARE THREE WAYS TO BE MORE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND BLUNDERS TO AVOID.

What does it mean to be socially responsible? No matter how big or small your organization may be, it’s an important question to ask yourself. While many think of community relations or environmental efforts as ways to be socially responsible, those may not be enough.

Businesses around the world are clearly aware of the need for corporate social responsibility, or CSR. In fact, more than 8,000 organizations have signed the United Nations Global Compact pledging to show good global citizenship in the areas of human rights, labor standards, and environmental protection.

But the motives for participating in CSR are not always for the greater good. Some organizations do it for the free PR. Many want what they see as the “gotcha media” off their backs. Still, others participate because 77% of customers say it’s important to them. Translation: Efforts may not always originate from an authentic or internal place.

 

DONATING TO CAUSES OR PARTICIPATING IN SMALL COMMUNITY RELATIONS EFFORTS AREN’T SUSTAINABLE IN THE LONG-RUN.

Perhaps this is why many organizations do good now, yet fall off the wagon soon enough. A study by the London Business School and the University of California, Riversidefound that, after engaging in socially responsible behaviors, companies are more likely to act unethically in the future because corporate leaders feel they’ve accumulated “moral credits” by doing good deeds.

Companies shouldn’t be socially responsible for others. They need to be socially responsible for themselves. True social responsibility–the kind that’s authentic and done because a company actually cares–can’t happen if not everyone on the inside is involved. Action reflects efforts. If the effort isn’t there, sustainable social responsibility will be hard to find.

While the path to social responsibility isn’t an overnight one, getting everyone on board can have a major impact on your organization. Here are three simple ways to pay it forward from the ground up:

1. MAKE IT A COMMUNITY EFFORT.

You need to encourage all employees to get involved in socially responsible initiatives given how little direction CSR has these days, as studies show. This starts with promoting the idea of a corporation as a single entity, not as various departments.

When you’re promoting the idea of a corporation as an entity, triumphs and failures becomes each person’s duty. Collected efforts, whether contributing to brainstorming meetings or revamping CSR tactics, will bring your employees together.

Start by reviewing the mission, values, and goals of your organization. Then, ask each employee how they would apply these company cornerstones toward social responsibility. While they may suggest the same environmental or community relations efforts, getting each person involved creates camaraderie, engagement, and a collective energy in your company.

2. OFFER EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES.

Professional development opportunities are the key to moving your organization forward. While you may not have a department dedicated to social responsibility, you can give each employee the tools to create and implement strategies.

There are many certification courses, conferences, symposiums, and other CSR-related programs that can boost the knowledge of your team (check out this list for lots of great options). Plus, there are choices for any budget, from free webinars to summits overseas. Giving your employees educational opportunities–particularly having to do with social responsibility–can help create better ideas and follow-through in the future.

3. CREATE CHARITY REWARDS AND BONUSES.

Social responsibility is probably not on the daily task list for your employees. Often, they need motivation, perhaps in the form of an incentive to help them. Rewards and charity bonuses can help you create that push.

Here’s how you can do it: Create a team-based rewards system around performance. The more teams get involved in a given project, the larger the charity reward becomes.

For example, you can introduce rewards into your employee referral program so that employees who bring in a certain number of referrals receive a charity donation in their name. Research shows that referral programs are the best way to retain and hire better quality employees with the lowest cost and time per hire. Though employees are not recruiters, playing a part in hiring top-tier talent builds team morale and can teach them firsthand about social responsibility. Plus, when the right charity incentive is offered, it can create healthy competition and increase participation.

Pick the charity reward that fits your budget and team needs. For example, my company has contributed to the Philippines relief fund based on the charity efforts of our team. Employees receive bonuses and rewards by volunteering in community relations efforts.

True social responsibility starts from the ground up. When you want to improve your processes, try looking at it from an overarching perspective. The solution to better social responsibility may not be as obvious as you thought. Donating to causes or participating in small community relations efforts aren’t sustainable in the long-run. But by paying it forward internally, external social responsibility won’t be as big a mountain to climb.

Originally Posted on Fast Company

Google gets a lot of heat from a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Some of it is very warranted while some of it is simply grousing. The feelings for Google as a company run the gamut from anti-competitive (ask Yelp for their thoughts on this one) to simply being better than the rest (check out this post from Mike Grehan for his take on Google and competition). In all of business there are few companies that elicit such strong reactions for perceptions ranging from very good to very bad.

While all of this business perspective on Google’s reputation is interesting, especially from a negative standpoint, it’s most important to consider the opinions that count more than we like to give credit: the consumers. Findings from the latest Corporate Social Responsibility Index conducted the the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Reputation Institute, Google is doing just fine as far as their reputation goes. Here is a look at where Google falls on the Top 50 for 2011.

For the complete Top 50 list you can click here.

This study has been going on since 2008 and Google has experienced its ups and downs. It ranked #1 in 2008, #3 in 2009, #10 in 2010 and has now moved back up the corporate reputation ladder again. Of course, it is only fair to note that the data for this was gathering in January of 2011 so there was not the specter of being called before a Senate hearing regarding potential anti trust issues to influence how people feel about the company. Maybe that will be reflected in the 2012 survey.

So why does this matter? Well, the online space has created a more fragile corporate reputation environment than at any other time in history. The ability for companies to try to sweep issues under the rug is at best much more difficult and at worst (for the companies that is) near impossible. Transparency in a real sense counts more than it ever has yet one has to wonder if it is really available even today.

It’s important for Google, obviously, to maintain as pristine a reputation as possible. What is interesting is the idea that it also may be just as important for the industry as a whole that Google has as clean a record as possible in the court of public opinion. Whether we want to admit it or not, as Google goes, so goes the Internet industry. Some will bark at this notion but it’s hard to deny just how intertwined the public’s perception of the Internet as a whole is wrapped up with how Google is viewed.

This can be dangerous territory for sure since no one is immune to being “taken out” regardless of size or stature. I have had a trusted advisor tell me in no uncertain terms that “every deal (his name for a company) is 90 days away from extinction regardless of how big or small it is”. At first I thought this was just hyperbole serving to make a point but think about how many big players have taken significant falls in short periods of time. You don’t have to look too far back in fact. Netflix has gone from high flier to question mark in three short months. It can happen.

So what are you doing to make sure your corporate reputation is as spotless as possible? Are you just letting it go and hoping for the best or are you actively managing the process. In the days prior to the Internet that kind of gamble may have carried an acceptable level of risk but in today’s world of instant information and thus instant opinions (be they accurate or not is irrelevant) that might be a gamble that no one should be willing to take.

(Via Marketing Pilgrim)

corporate social responsibilityThe corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement continues to thrive and brands are slowly but surely shifting their focus to broader and deeper issues surrounding sustainability, accountability and governance concerns.

Early this month Selfridges launched Project Ocean, a CSR campaign based on the pledge that it will stop sourcing and selling all non-sustainable fish, a project supported by partners including the Zoological Society of London and the Marine Conservation Society.

More recently, The Carbon Trust released its survey revealing that half of the 1,000 UK respondents are more concerned than they were five years ago about the impact of companies on the environment.

It is clear that while leading brands are adopting new CSR models that boost their bottom lines (61% of people are more likely to buy from companies with good reputations), communicating that message effectively to influence and educate consumers takes an innovative marketing approach.

The Carbon Trust survey shows that consumers are more aware of a brands strategy and that 56% of people are more loyal to brands that can show evidence of environmental actions. Given the need to win that consumer loyalty, it is imperative for marketers to play a greater role in driving that change.

Project Ocean, as a recent example, has had a strong publicity campaign and celebrity involvement. T-shirts, a bucking whale ride in-store and interactive window displays communicate their project in an entertaining and social way.

However, maintaining that customer loyalty over a sustained period of time is imperative. As Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon Trust Standard and Peter Walshe, global BrandZ director of Millward Brown said in their FT article, if a company makes a “one-off improvement to win publicity” and then returns to normal operations, it will have lasting consequences for the brand’s reputation.

So while brands can see the reasons why they should adopt and maintain their CSR strategies, many marketers will be wondering how they will effectively convey this message and improve their brands reputation.

While Project Ocean is an innovative CSR strategy, to effectively communicate the business model, goals and achievements, video is the ideal platform.

Researched by the Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation to reveal a strong influence on consumer habits is the film “The End of the Line”. The film was an expose into over-fishing in our oceans and Channel 4 analysed the lasting impact it had on businesses and the general public in changing their perceptions to marine sustainability.

Since its release, over a million people have now seen the documentary from when it was originally launched in 2009. Researchers calculated that for every person who saw the film, 510 knew about it. Politicians, multi-national companies, celebrities and millions of individuals were all influenced by the film in the way they think about fish.

Brands adopting a sustainability strategy are entering into a lengthy commitment; both to the environment and with their consumers. By maintaining an on-going dialogue with their audience brands are able to effectively communicate that commitment over a sustained period of time.

Based on the statistics from “The End of the Line” it’s shown that video is an effective means to amplify the vision, goals and success of a CSR strategy. With more recent statistics from the Nielsen VideoCensus report showing that 26.9million people in the UK watched streamed video content from their home and work computers in April 2011, and YouTube attracted 19.5m unique users; the moving image is now a loud platform for marketers to ignore.

The power of the moving image is undeniable and has often been cited as a key influence for consumers. ‘The Rachel’ haircut from the early series of Friends was copied by young women around the world and computer games have been claimed to affect and influence young teenagers.

As Forrester research recently revealed, a minute of video is worth 1.8m words. It is an obvious choice for brands when communicating the various CSR projects and issues and done well, can not only influence consumer purchasing habits, but do so in an engaging and entertaining way.

One of the leading brands who has, since the 1930’s, innovatively used the immerging media is Procter & Gamble. In the 1930s the corporation produced and sponsored the first radio “soap” operas to highlight their products and when the medium switched to television in the 1950s, most of the new serials were sponsored and produced by the company.

Series including “The Young and the Restless”, “As the World Turns” and “Days of Our Lives” became house-hold institutions. P&G has witnessed positive benefits from embracing green policies and has used its knowledge of the latest media innovations to effectively deliver the same communication strategies for its CSR programme. The corporate overview of the CSR vision is a film of the companies Vice President for Global Sustainability and other projects are highlighted through video including ‘Children’s Safe Drinking Water’.

During the early stages of the CSR movement Nike was one of the brands hit by the growing demand from consumers for transparency and a need for a higher level of ethical conduct from a brand.

Last month Nike launched its Better World campaign, a programme that through the acquisition of data can help the industry as a whole better understand its impacts and prepare for future trends like climate change, food and material shortages, and escalating oil prices.

Using a video campaign created with recycled Nike ads the brand explains and influences not only its consumers, but peers within the industry.

Brands considering or implementing a CSR strategy should consider the medium in which they communicate their programme. With The Carbon Trust revealing that 20% of sales are directly linked to corporate reputation, building that customer loyalty is imperative.

Nike and other brands including Waitrose, and M&S Plan A all use video to show their sustainability vision, responsibility and future impact, not only to drive sales but to provide a lasting reputation for the brand.

Original post: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7582-the-impact-of-csr-on-brand-reputation-and-sales-2

Guest Post by: Dan Harris

Yesterday I attended the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) How to be Safe and Social event.

Of particular interest was the presentation by Malcolm Phillips, the Code Policy Manager at theCommittee for Advertising Practice (CAP), on updating the digital remit of the CAP code and the new Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines for online advertising that come into effect from 1 March 2011.

Of primary importance to me, and to the way FreshNetworks functions as a social media agency, are the rules regarding the re-purposing of user generated content.

While the ASA and CAP understand that marketers and brands cannot be held responsible for content produced by independent consumers and third parties, it’s how that content is used that will be come under scrutiny. From the 1st March, if brands decide to re-purpose user generated content in their marketing strategies, they become liable for the content from the time of use onwards – it falls within the same guidelines as any offline or brand-generated marketing content.

So what does this actually mean for brands and businesses using social media marketing?

  • Any user comments re-tweeted by a brand will require proof that the claims made are true. For example, re-tweeting a comment that your brand makes the best coats will require proof that the coats are the best.
  • Drinks companies will have to be very careful with any galleries they create on Facebook as advertising rules governing alcohol promotion state that no under 25s can be shown in the marketing material (CAP code point 18.6).
  • A brand is responsible for any messages it produces that are then re-tweeted by followers. If it goes viral, the ASA may well ask for the brand to clarify the purpose of the message and its content.
  • If any branded messages are re-tweeted with additional comments from the follower, the ASA will not hold the brand accountable for the additional user generated content.

The new rules also raise a number of additional questions that need clarification:

  • At what point does user generated content fall under the brand control?
  • How much additional information do you need to add to a tweet to ensure it isn’t misleading, and will a link to more information suffice?
  • At which point does PR become marketing and visa versa?

The ASA are not actively looking for breaches of these new regulations, however it only takes one complaint from a customer or competitor brand and they will consider making an investigation. This will not be retrospective and will only be applied to content produced on or after 1st March 2011.

All in all, the IAB How to be Safe and Social event has thrown up just as many questions as it has answered. 2011 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for online marketers, especially within Social Media, and there are bound to be a few real life examples that will set a precedent for what is and isn’t deemed acceptable.

Image courtesy of ETF trends

Original Post: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/02/how-to-be-safe-and-social-asa-and-cap-guidelines-social-media/

crowdsourcing-social-media-responsibility
Weber Shandwick released new research Wednesday, suggesting that “the crowd” knows a thing or two when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The study, conducted last October by the PR firm‘s Social Impact speciality group in partnership with KRC Research, interviewed 216 executives from Fortune 200 companies involved with philanthropic or community outreach to determine the value of crowdsourcing and social media to CSR.

While only 44% of the executives said they had used crowdsourcing to generate ideas and spur decision making, 95% of those reported that it had been valuable to their organization’s CSR programming. Crowdsourcing helped create new perspectives, new energy, build audience relationships and find new clients, the report claimed.

Social media reversed that ratio with 72% saying they had used a social media service in regards to CSR, but only 59% believed that it had a positive impact on their communications with consumers. Facebook (67%) was seen as the most valuable social network while Twitter (46%) and Foursquare (44%) lagged behind blogs (60%) and LinkedIn (58%) in terms of perceived value.

In an earlier report from the same sample set, Social Impact and KCR Research reported that these executives valued CSR most for its impact on critical issues rather than more business-oriented motivations like customer loyalty. This is encouraging as CSR becomes increasingly important for major companies. Corporate social responsibility is a nebulous term that variably refers to the way businesses try to help and give back to the community and public well-being. CSR goals and expectations change from business to business, making it difficult to measure just how “socially responsible” a business is without internal documents.

These studies point to promising results, with top executives viewing non-profits as ideal partners because they make CSR investments more effective and provide a critical foundation and infrastructure.

Read below for the full report along with lots of graphs breaking down the core results by effectiveness. What do you think of CSR as a concept, are these results a step in the right direction?

(via Mashable)

Campbell Soup Company has been presented a Gold Medal Award for “significant contributions to corporate social responsibility (CSR)” by the International Radio and Television Society Foundation.

The IRTS Foundation is a charity dedicated to building future media leaders through educational programs, training opportunities and diversity initiatives for students and educators across the nation.

The foundation awarded Campbell the Gold Medal in recognition of its exemplary CSR initiatives and effective communication of these. Achievements cited include Campbell’s “Nourishing” CSR program for positively impacting the workplace, marketplace and communities, and numerous initiatives that have won the company a listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and ranking among the “100 Best Corporate Citizens”  and “World’s Most Ethical Companies” lists respectively published by Corporate Responsibility and Ethisphere magazines. (via Mediapost)

searchexchange

Search Exchange – an Internet Marketing Conference coming to Charlotte, NC in May, 2010 has just joined NCSBR as a Sustaining Member. Search Exchange is a 3 day internet marketing conference that will feature the top professionals in the industry. Speakers will cover topics including, SEM: SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing and Analytics.

You can register for this event here.