All posts filed under: Sustainability and responsibility

Does corporate responsibility require more social creativity

Does corporate responsibility require more social creativity?

Some years back, Deborah Doane wrote a hard-hitting article about the “myth of CSR”. In it, she argued that CSR was a reaction rather than an action; that it was essentially a collective response to uprisings against the behaviours and morals of corporate institutions and that it had been encouraged by an historically weak NGO sector as a way to bring about change. Her concerns mirror many that I have independently raised.

Finding a better good: the leap to true responsibility

At a recent presentation, I introduced the concept of the “goodness movement”. I defined this as a global wish for social wellness that is driving corporate social responsibility today: a recognition by brands that those that are seen to do good perform better; and a response to a wish by consumers to make a difference. Buyers want to tell themselves they are doing the right thing, and as part of that, they want affirmation on the part of the brands they buy from that good is being done. That’s never been easier. Purchases are increasingly tied to beneficial actions that, if I can refer back to my direct marketing agency days for a moment, amount to a “social premium”. The new coupon is social. Once consumers clipped physically to get money off. Increasingly, when they buy the brand, a good action is now included. Pampers, for example, have teamed up with UNICEF in a programme that sees one dose of the tetanus vaccine donated for every pack of product bought. Brands are increasingly presenting consumers …

CSR: aligning corporate purpose and social responsibility

It is said that CSR is how companies build their reputation and contribute to helping the world. Cynics suggest that CSR has sprung from a need by corporates to justify what they were doing to the world. Either way, it’s failed to turn things around so far: CSR hasn’t made a material difference to global sustainability; and corporate motives remain the object of widespread suspicion. According to this article by McKinsey, levels of trust in business are below 55 percent in many countries and less than 20 percent of executives in a recent McKinsey survey reported having frequent success influencing government policy and the outcome of regulatory decisions. No-one’s won – the reasons for which I’ve touched on several times, including here and here. A key reason the McKinsey authors suggest is because of the heightened expectations that consumers have of corporate behaviour, and the increasingly ability to scrutinise and critique those behaviours via social media. John Browne and Robin Nuttall give four reasons why CSR has failed to impress: 1. Lack of traction for …

Shifting brand responsibility

By Mark Di Somma Let me make a suggestion to brand owners in the interests not just of transparency but of greater consumer belief. Stop communicating your efforts in sustainability, diversity, traceability, environmental contribution, fair trade etc as corporate social responsibility obligations. Instead, act on them, and account for them, as differentiating inclinations. And frame those inclinations within a broader, singular superset: your brand’s distinctive sense of its responsibilities. To that end, let’s stop talking about reporting. It smacks of obligation and compliance rather than commitments and contributions. And I would suggest, change the way your responsible actions are shared to make them more involving. Less paperwork, a wider range of sincere and honest conversations, with more people, across a broader range of platforms. In other words, make the discussions around how you behave ongoing, less formal and truly “social”. Just so we’re clear, I’m not for one minute advocating that the activities identified above go unaccounted for. Quite the opposite. I am advocating a change in spirit. I am suggesting that the underlying question …

Sustainability: Being good, not just doing good

Historically, corporate social responsibility has put the emphasis on how businesses are doing good. It’s become an increasingly varied checklist of “things we’ve done right”. Today though, socially aware audiences want more. They increasingly make judgments about you based on your overall likeability. They want to do business with brands that are good. And that in turn means that, at a social level, your reputation depends less on your ability to simply highlight good works done in isolation (through community activities or sponsorships for example), and much more on your ability to show that you are inherently principled in your dealings and that you behave consistently across your organisation in ways that align with your social and commercial reputation. That shift in the significance of social actions has a downstream effect on critical social initiatives such as sustainability. In my opinion, they should no longer be seen as nice-to-haves or even as opportunities to improve efficiencies across your supply chain. Rather, the actions you take in these areas are competitive opportunities to distinguish your company …

Connecting your brand and your social responsibility policies

Connecting your brand and your social responsibility policies

Almost every brand I work with has a community policy, an environmental policy, a sustainability policy … as they should. And everyone seems to acknowledge that the policy or policies they have form an important part of their reputation and their stakeholder relations … as they should. And yet precious few brands have actively connected those social responsibility activities with their brand.