Unless your company is in the Fortune 500, is a Wal-Mart supplier or vendor or boasts forward-thinking leadership, it probably doesn’t have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. But should it?
How Large Companies Profit Responsibly
Many public companies have initiated CSR programs, mostly due to global, investor, and societal pressures. These large companies dedicated vast resources to weave environmental and social impact into their corporate strategies and are now integrating them into their daily activities.
Since most corporate leaders entered the CSR world reluctantly, they were skeptical they could achieve social responsibility profitably. Once they saw social and financial benefit first hand, many wished they had implemented CSR programs earlier. Southwest Airlines offers a prime example of a large company that benefited from an early CSR project:
During the “great recession” of 2009, Southwest Airlines was able to report its 37th year of consecutive profitability while still enhancing customers’ experience and strengthening their brand. They implemented programs to help those struggling during the economic downturn like not charging customers for services that were expected to be free (“Our Bags Fly Free”). They gave back to the communities by donating more than $11.6 million and more than 45,000 employee volunteer hours to charities. Also during 2009, they purchased green power in the form of wind energy, flew their first Required Navigation Performance Flight, a critical step in long-term jet fuel conservation; participated in innovative emissions reduction research; unveiled the Green Plane to test the latest environmentally friendly cabin materials and customer products and launched a more robust onboard recycling program. Find out more about Southwest Airlines’ CSR program in their Southwest One Report.
Bridging the Gap: Big Ideas for Your Company
Time and money are precious commodities for small and midsized companies. Any activity that takes the focus away from staying above water is viewed as a risk. However, the most successful leaders see risk as an opportunity. As proven by many early adopters, CSR and sustainability initiatives won’t sink you they may just lay the path that will help you soar.
On some level, everyone cares about their environment and community. However, social and environmental concern alone isn’t enough to drive action. But improving profitability through cost cutting measures, efficiency and added product lines should. Throw in improving your company’s image and brand, creating competitive advantages and improving employee morale and corporate culture and you’ve just made a case for launching your own CSR program.
CSR: A Call to Action
BusinessEarth believes that all companies, no matter what size, can and should make a difference in their communities and environment. You don’t need to be a Wal-Mart vendor or create a large CSR department like PepsiCo, Dell, and AT&T to make a difference. You just need direction toward and help along the path.
What type of CSR program does your company need and how will you go about creating it?
Be sure to check out our follow-up: Don’t Recreate the CSR Wheel – Learn from Others’ Mistakes