It’s about impact.

The view is better from the top.

Reading Richard Levick’s latest post on Forbes, Corporate Social Responsibility for Profit (http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardlevick/2012/01/11/corporate-social-responsibility-for-profit/), we were struck by a few powerful gems.  Levick talks about the importance of “impact” in CSR, and by impact he is talking about the direct impact of a company’s products or services on the lives of its customers.  The theory is that if a company is working hard to produce and/or deliver something that has a positive impact on the lives of its customers, those same customers reward it with their continued loyalty – meaning more purchases.  By using environmentally or socially impactful practices the company demonstrates its commitment to CSR in a way that resonates powerfully and personally with its customers.  That translates into both increased sales – a better bottom line – and a higher stock price for the company.   If a company works hard to build a better, more sustainable product, using all the best environmental practices, that impacts customers much more so than what Levick refers to as the old-stye “lavish demonstrations of goodwill” (i.e. simply writing a big fat check to a local nonprofit).  It shows the company really does care.  Not only does that help sell more products, focusing on impact leads to a rosier outlook from analysts, and a resulting higher stock price.   Companies that act in such a positively impactful way are seen as value-creating.  What analyst isn’t gonna love that.  In the end:  “It doesn’t matter what you sell. People are looking hard at how you do business and the companies that do it best win the CSR race, ahead of those for whom “corporate giving” is the only index of corporate responsibility.”  So true.  It’s just as our friend Leslie put it the other day, “Buying tables is neither a smart business or corporate engagement strategy.”

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