As COVID-19 picked up pace globally, there was widespread chatter about ongoing discussions about ‘pivoting’, facing the new normal and preparing for the uncertainties. While many were able to shift gears to working from home and hoarding essentials for impending lockdowns, the outlook was dismal for the most vulnerable who had already been struggling to put food on their tables.
My client, the Ignite IGL Foundation recognised that there was a need for essential items among the communities hardest hit in the area where its parent company and branches were located. The team partnered with the local Red Cross to roll out its COVID-19 corporate social responsibility (CSR) outreach in 11 communities bringing unexpected joy to 450 families. Their focus was on the elderly, those living with disabilities, and low-income earners, and the team personally delivered grocery packages with essential staples in a gesture to show they care.
With masks on, observing the social-distancing protocols, the team seamlessly replicated a task they had been executing for several days, moving house to house to ensure non-perishable food items got to those who were shut in. The beneficiaries were able to provide for their families with the packages they received, and it meant the world to them. In the end, there was an immense outpouring of gratitude and an air of jubilation.
Have you ever wondered why some businesses give back? Sure make for great publicity but a key aspect of ‘doing good in your neighbourhood’ as a business is to create a sustainable relationship with the community within which you operate.
With a shortage of resources and countless causes that need funding, CSR stops a gap and helps create sustainable development. So what exactly is CSR? Corporate social responsibility is a company’s commitment to manage the social, environmental and economic effects of its operations responsibly and in line with public expectations.
CSR is also called corporate citizenship and it’s one of my favourite aspects of public relations. I get to be a part of life-changing, community, and nation building projects that positively impact a range of people and organisations.
Businesses that practice CSR make a commitment to improving communities, the environment, the people they hire, and the economy in which they operate.
There are four main CSR activities:
- Philanthropic efforts: this is where an organisation gives back to a good cause by supporting charitable initiatives in the communities in which the business operates. This includes donating money or equipment to civic organisations, engaging in community initiatives and facilitating employees volunteering time and giving back.
- Environmental Conservation: focusing on reinvesting profits into health, safety, and environmental programs. Think about initiatives like waste reduction and limiting your carbon footprint.
- Business diversity and labour policies: this focused on recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and improving the wellbeing of your staff.
- Community-Based Supporting volunteer efforts: Getting your staff out of the office and away from their desks for a good cause can allow for better bonding as they work towards a deeper purpose.
If you’re thinking whether CSR would be beneficial to your business and the community in which you operate, here are some reasons you should consider it:
Better Community Relationships
It goes without saying that when a customer likes a brand or business, they are more likely to be loyal and to promote it to others. Implementing CSR allows for better relationships with the people in and around your community and allows you to expand your reach beyond your immediate borders. When you have a good community relationship, you inevitably create brand ambassadors who speak well about your business, products and services.
Increased Job Satisfaction & More Engaged Staff
Employee engagement goes through the roof when they feel fulfilled at work. And people are drawn to companies that show they genuinely care for their community and country.
Media outlets are always on the lookout for a great feel-good story and when you have CSR as part of your strategic goals, this is a great way to get publicity. Unlike advertising where you’re pushing dollars behind a campaign to self-promote, a CSR campaign means journalists use their voice and authority to weave a story about the good you’re doing.
More Business Opportunities
A bonus from publicising your efforts is that you get to catch the attention of partners and potential customers who are looking to do business with socially responsible organisations.
The onus is on the business owner or the management team to look at ways in which they can improve their relationships with the communities in which they operate. CSR is a great way to ensure that you’re working in harmony with your surroundings. It shows that you care about your customers and the community, and the benefits will extend far beyond solidarity with your business.
Kimesha is the CEO of Oasis Integrated Communications, a PR firm with operations in Canada and Jamaica, and a focus on helping businesses to find their paradise. She’s a seasoned PR professional with a passion for crafting meaningful stories that connect with people. An eternal optimist who thrives on perfecting solutions that marry creative brand experience with consumer engagement, she believes in tapping into the core values of a company and tailoring strategies that share their narrative and find affinity. Her experience spans public relations, corporate communications, marketing, social media and advertising across a range of industries. She has executed projects in Toronto, New York, and Jamaica where she has deftly managed some of the foremost brands across North America and the Caribbean.
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