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.


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.



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:


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.


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.


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:

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:

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)


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.