Benefits to Socially Conscious Companies
Socially conscious companies can see benefits that include increased employee engagement, skill, and productivity, larger talent pools, and more positive public perception. In some cases, these companies can even see higher revenues and other economic benefits as a result of their social responsibility policies. Below you'll find a rundown of several general benefits to corporate social responsibility and examples of these initiatives in play at companies like Warby Parker, Google, and IBM.
BENEFITS OF CSR
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has several benefits for companies, both tangible and intangible. Customers want to buy products from companies that are socially responsible and have better perceptions of those companies. Employees also want to work at companies that they see as socially responsible; one Stanford study found that MBA graduates would "sacrifice an average of $13,700 of their annual salary to work for a socially responsible company." Social responsibility can increase employee productivity, engagement, and creativity as well.
While millennials most often come to mind as the generation that most desires CSR in the workplace, evidence suggests that employees of all ages benefit from working at a socially responsible company. With effective CSR efforts, companies can "reduce employee turnover by 50 percent and increase employee productivity by 13 percent." One study found that executives whose companies integrate CSR efforts had greater success in reducing costs, creating sustainable logistics, enhancing customer perception, attracting investors, and several other key areas.
Another study, from Project ROI, clearly communicates the tangible benefits of CSR initiatives. Companies that integrate CSR can increase their market value by 6%, grow shareholder value by a total of over $1 billion over 15 years, and increase revenue by up to 20% in addition to employee productivity, engagement, and turnover benefits.
COMPANIES BENEFITING FROM CSR
Warby Parker included social responsibility as a major component of its brand with its "Buy One, Give One" program that donates a pair of glasses to people in need for each pair of glasses the company sells. That initiative, as well as other charity partnerships the company formed, resonated with audiences (especially millennials) and was key to growing Warby Parker into a "massive success." Warby Parker has raised $215 million and was valued at $1.2 billion in 2015. They've also expanded from web-only to 37 retail locations around North America.
Major consulting firm Deloitte has a pro bono program that donates employees' consulting services to community nonprofits. This program has led to "more than 1,000 pro bono projects, clocking more than 340,000 client service hours," with 60% of pro bono clients reporting productivity improvements of more than 20%. Deloitte employees also report greater satisfaction after participating in pro bono efforts; two-thirds of Deloitte employees who participated said they gained subject matter knowledge from their pro bono efforts, more than half said they gained stronger client-serving skills, and 97% said pro bono experience was "a positive contributor to job satisfaction."
Google has consistently integrated social responsibility as part of its brand, targeting all of its major stakeholder groups with these efforts. CSR initiatives improve Google's user experience, employee satisfaction, and investor potential. These initiatives have gone a long way to improving Google's public perception; they've been named a top company for CSR by Forbes, and 1 in 5 millennials (who tend to value socially-conscious workplaces) want to work at Google.
IBM's corporate social responsibility efforts are varied, including environmental sustainability and community engagement. These initiatives have also improved IBM's brand perception, as they were named the #5 best corporate citizen by Forbes. IBM employees have donated more than 20 million hours of volunteer time since 2003. Just one of IBM's CSR programs, the Corporate Service Corps Program, has seen a 300% return on an initial $200 million investment thanks to the new markets and improved talent pool the program attracts.
Aflac has long had a commitment to social responsibility, specifically focused on childhood cancer research. The company's Duckprints program has raised over $118 million for research into pediatric cancer. That commitment has an impact on Aflac corporately and with customers: Aflac has been named one of the world's "Most Ethical Companies" for 11 years running, and has appeared on Fortune's list of "100 Best Companies to Work For" 19 years in a row. Their 2016 Duckprints social media campaign garnered almost a million interactions from customers.
Companies that integrate CSR can see benefits in public brand perception, employee engagement and productivity, revenue, value, and more. Warby Parker, Google, Deloitte, IBM, and Aflac are all examples of companies that have found tangible success in these areas through their CSR efforts.