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Corporate Social Responsibility: The Key to Business Success

By incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into your company's business model, you're showing your consumers, employees and stakeholders that you act responsibly for the greater good. CSR can affect your business positively or negatively, however, depending on what it does and how it does it.

Identify Your CSR Efforts

The three kinds of CSR are as follows:

Environmental CSR.

The environment is in the headlines almost daily because people care about what happens to the environment. Some things you can do as a business owner are simple and cost-effective: set up recycling bins as appropriate throughout the office and stock the your breakroom and cafeteria with biodegradable products. Many companies have already taken these simple steps. Depending on your business, it may be appropriate to commit to more costly initiatives like installing solar panels or taking steps to reduce your company's carbon footprint.

Philanthropic CSR.

Philanthropic CSP includes the donation of time, money or resources to not-for-profit organizations. Many companies have a "day of service" at which employees volunteer to do things like work for a local charitable organization such as Habitat for Humanity or they may sponsor a team to run a 5K race for the benefit of a charity like the Breast Cancer Foundation. Retailers sometimes make a cash donation of a certain percentage of their profits in recognition of a particular day, such as National Wear Red Day, which supports the American Heart Association.

Ethical Business Practices.

This initiative focuses on supporting fair labor practices for your employees as well as those of your suppliers. For example, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream uses fair trade-certified ingredients like sugar, cocoa and vanilla among others.

Add Meaning to These Efforts

As important as these efforts are, they need to be meaningful to be effective. The projects your company undertakes need to reflect your beliefs — with one important caveat: if they do not further your business's mission and you are not willing to accept the possibility of a negative public reaction, it is best to keep to neutral causes when you support a not-for-profit.

If you do implement CSR in your company, consider the following to ensure that you get the results you're seeking:

Involve your team in the effort. Ask your employees for suggestions about how your company can be a better corporate citizen.

Avoid pet projects in favor of broad-interest initiatives. Put a program in place that allows your employees to choose the nonprofits you would support in any given year.

Involve your company's leaders. These leaders can be the biggest cheerleaders for the projects you pursue.

Don't overcommit. Avoid making any commitments you don't think you can keep.

Set a realistic budget. Ensure that your budget in support of CSR efforts is realistic.

Promote your efforts. Publicize CSR efforts on social media, on your website and in local media.

For additional ideas and ways to enhance your CSR efforts, contact us today.

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