Your CSR steps towards becoming an ethical business

  • Jul 22, 2019
  • 4 minutes read
  • Your CSR steps towards becoming an ethical business

    In a world where big companies get bad reputation for poor decisions relating to environmental damage or corruption, being an honest, ethical business is increasingly needed. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) allows your business to enact positive change in the world and to challenge the discourse of unethical businesses engaging in climate change and sweatshops – scandals that can cost brands their loyalty and existence.

    It is not only about doing our bit to save the world, but for maintaining a trusting relationship with consumers. 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand and more than 9 in 10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

    So, what are the major elements of CSR that I can incorporate into my business to sustain it for the future? Here are some of the leading examples:


    Reducing your carbon footprint

    It is undeniable that climate change has been thrown to the forefront of the public’s consciousness in 2019, with Greta Thornburg now a household name across Europe and beyond. The public is concerned about the environment, and are demanding change. Businesses must catch up to these demands and will gain not only a happier customer base – knowing that their investments in your products aren’t having negative effects on the planet – but more sustainability for your business in its products.

    Johnson & Johnson have gained praise for leading the way in reducing their cabron footpring through their green initiatives. They aim to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 and increase the production of electricity from clean/renewable sources by that same year, aspiring to power all their facilities with renewable energy by 2050.

    Improving labour policies

    Workers rights have always been of key concern to many. A company’s reputation can be gone in seconds from a simple whistle blow or leaked footage of staff mistreatment. Ensuring a happy workforce who feel listened to and adequately paid is not only going to keep your workers happy, but present your company as a desirable place to work and justifiable to use.

    For Walt Disney Company, amidst scandals over under-paid staff, the company has taken and publicized initiatives to improve its labour policies. They have largely worked with labour-focused external organisations and have score 100% for the last 12 years on LGBT workplace equality with the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Empowering their own Global Workplace and Women’s Initiative has also led Disney to create flexible work policies and identify development opportunities for women.

    Participating in Fairtrade

    Taking care of workers doesn’t just include your local staff, but ensuring those who often face bigger hardship in less developed countries aren’t left behind. In their own words, “Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.”

    Ben and Jerry’s proudly showcase their initiates for Fairtrade to prevent the sweatshop-style exploitation rife in other companies. By 2011, all their ingredients were Fairtrade certified in Europe and they have paid £2m in social premiums to small-scale farms and farming co-ops globally. These social premiums have allowed their co-ops to build medical clinics, invest in rural schools and implement pest-management practices to ensure the livelihood of those you may forget when you eat a delicious Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

    Charitable giving

    A well-executed corporate giving campaign can have tremendous and lasting good for those who need it most. An individual donating money to a homeless shelter is one thing that can only go so far, whereas the backing of a company towards a cause makes a wide impact that will also boost the PR of your company (philanthropic activity does not go unnoticed by the media) but also growth when positive public perception and media attention leads to the CSR-friendly consumer endorsement of your company.

    For Wells Fargo, charitable giving plays a central role. The company donates up to 1.5% of its revenue to charitable causes a year – raising $286.5m in 2017 alone to more than 14,500 non-profits. They also provide employees two paid days off per year to volunteer and give back to the charity of their choice. Imagine what that would do for the morale and sense of purpose among your workplace!

    Volunteering in the community

    Wells Fargo’s initiatives are part of a wider CSR movement of corporate volunteering. This is a great way of building a relationship and connection with the local community of your business. A Deloitte survey found that the majority of workers felt positive about doing volunteerism alongside their job, with 92% believing it is an effective way to gain leadership skills. This means that you can develop your staff and improve their skills while giving back to the community you serve.

    Communal volunteering not only gains the trust of your local community but of your employees too and gives them a reason to stay. As one Cisco staff member said – “I love the unique week of time off we get to volunteer in the community. That shows that Cisco is committed to being a part of the community and makes me proud to work here.”

    Want insight from the generation bringing CSR to the workplace? AIESEC connects companies with young, global-minded youth keen to change the world. Head to our Partners Opportunity Portal to find out more.

    Written by

    Rory Wade

    A global citizen striving to understand the world around him through leadership and cross-cultural exchange. I have a special interest in how businesses and organisations can be sources of positive change in the world and lives of its citizens.

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