The pressure’s on for companies to represent themselves as socially responsible brands. Those that don’t may lose business to more responsible competitors. Take a look at the following stats:
- 55 percent of consumers would pay extra to support companies committed to social good
- 60 percent of companies have experienced rising pressure to engage with social issues over the last three years
- 90 percent of consumers would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price or quality
It’s imperative for companies from every industry to be creative and innovative in finding ways to give back. While there’s no rulebook on how to implement responsible business practices, here are a few examples of successful initiatives:
- Whirlpool partners with numerous charitable organizations on special projects and publicly displays the number of hours their employees collectively volunteer
- Verizon collects old phones to benefit survivors of domestic abuse, and takes active measures to reduce their carbon footprint across their supply chain
- Kohl’s gives employees volunteer opportunities, runs special product lines that benefit children’s education, and implements recycling programs to reduce their carbon footprint
- Patagonia engages their stakeholders to advocate for public lands, like the Bears Ears National Monument
Building a responsible brand takes time, creativity and a willingness to invest in the future. It means identifying your own corporate values and pursuing sustainable initiatives aligned with those values.
Here are three ways your organization can demonstrate its commitment to corporate responsibility and start building a responsible brand.
1. Engage employees in volunteer and charitable activities.
Building a responsible brand attracts prospective employees to your company. In fact, 76 percent of millennials would rather work for a company that’s committed to social good than one who isn’t. This can be a significant benefit for your company; employees that are committed to your brand put in 57 percent more effort on the job and are 87 percent less likely to resign.
The most common way to engage employees in your organization’s sustainable business initiatives is to match donations employees make to charitable organizations. An estimated $2-3 billion is donated annually through corporate matching programs, and employees are more likely to give when there’s a match offered that effectively doubles the gift.
Another common practice is to give your employees opportunities to volunteer for important causes. Many companies, like Phone2Action, provide days off for their team to participate in community service. These function like regular vacation or sick days, only applied to volunteerism.
Other companies take this one step further by partnering with reputable charities to host ‘days of service’ or to provide more formal community service opportunities. For example, Patagonia offers their employees the chance to participate in environmental internships, where they can take time to work on sustainability projects. These programs provide a big draw for prospective employees.
Strategically aligning your volunteer opportunities with a corporate responsibility goal—like protecting the planet—allows you the chance to promote issues you care about as a company, while giving employees an added incentive to work for you.
2. Rebuild your business processes to start building a responsible brand.
In addition to empowering your employees to become more active participants and contributors to the community, you can build a responsible brand by improving your business processes with sustainable business best practices.
For example, Levi Strauss & Co. cut steps in their production processes for creating denim to reduce water use. Additionally, IKEA is working to, among other things, find ways to turn waste into useable materials for their products, cutting down on their carbon footprint.
But this is just the first step. In addition to internal process reengineering, companies can require external suppliers and vendors to uphold sustainable business processes as a condition of partnership. The adage ‘you are who you hang around with’ holds true—who you align with as a company can make or break your brand.
Here’s good news for you: you don’t have to be a major corporation or completely overhaul the way your business functions to be sustainable. You can lower energy use in your facilities, implement recycling programs and avoid unnecessary printing—we live in a digital age, after all. Not only does reducing resource use and waste help you build yourself as a responsible brand, but it also saves money. Being responsible and sustainable not only is the right thing to do—it’ll also help your bottom line.
3. Engage stakeholders and supporters in grassroots advocacy to drive public policy change.
The previous two practices for building a responsible brand have been in place for some time. They’re the established, mainstream way of doing things. But if you want to set yourself apart, consider this new strategy: engaging your stakeholders in grassroots advocacy to influence public policy.
More people are engaged in advocacy than ever before. On both sides of the aisle, people are engaging in politics and civic discourse in record numbers, especially on social media. The best way to take advantage of this environment is to identify key public policy issues important to your organization and engage your stakeholders to take action on those issues.
Beautycounter was founded four years ago to put safe beauty products in the hands of more people. While they do this by making great products, a key component of their mission is to advocate for legislative reform on laws that allow dangerous ingredients to be used in the production of many cosmetics.
On the anniversary of their founding on March 4th, Beautycounter launched a campaign called #MarchForth that organized their employees and customers to contact elected officials, urging them to pass laws that prohibited unsafe materials in beauty products. They used Phone2Action’s platform to engage their stakeholders and mobilize them to contact their legislators.
Business’ involvement in influencing public policy is nothing new. What’s new is the trend of businesses engaging their employees, customers and the general public to advocate for issues that align with their mission. By doing this, organizations can influence policy and build their reputation as a responsible brand at the same time.
Phone2Action had the privilege of hosting a webinar with the Corporate Responsibility Board and Beautycounter discussing these strategies for demonstrating corporate responsibility and building a responsible brand. To hear the full conversation, including more about these top strategies for building responsible brands, download the webinar today.
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