Increasing Competitiveness Through Good Corporate Citizenship
Companies today are facing increased pressure to be socially responsible as well as increased competition for customers and for the best employees.
As American business and families are on tighter budgets, they are making more conscientious decisions about the purchases they make. There is a subtle shift in the value proposition, where people are choosing where to put their time, energy and money not only into products, services and jobs that satisfy their self interest – what’s in it for me—but also a larger question of what value companies are bringing: how it effects their local community, the environment, and society.
Social Responsibility as a Differentiator
There are different ways companies choose to be socially responsible, by:
* Providing products that are designed or manufactured to minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Focusing on their operations and using supply chains that minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Engaging with their local communities to alleviate and solve local environmental and social problems, like illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, littering, conservation, and air pollution.
Companies choosing to focus on their product development or operations often invest significant amounts of time and energy into these initiatives and face both market and operational risks. These are critical aspects of developing a sustainable economy, but they are not equally accessible to all types of businesses.
Alternatively, all companies have the opportunity to engage with their local communities, and there are a wide range of ways to participate that can have long-lasting impacts.
This type of engaged social responsibility is also very visible to a company’s stakeholders. Consider the difference in opportunities to engage your key stakeholders and the different attitude and feelings you will prompt in them if your company announces a bold new recycling program (an internal effort) versus collaborating with neighbors to build a new playground that will give neighborhood kids a safe place to play (a public effort).
While both are worthy initiatives, one creates the opportunity to invite your stakeholders’ participation and is a tangible symbol in your community of your company’s impact. The other resides in corners and under desks and is hardly a rallying cry.