Trust begins at home

By Erin Russ on March 22nd, 2017

Trust: it’s a hot topic in today’s political landscape—if you’ve read even just one piece of news lately, you know what I’m talking about. One of our recent blog posts talked about how businesses have an opportunity to mend the “trust divide” people are experiencing with media and the government. One way to do that is through corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, refers to business practices involving initiatives that benefit the broader society. CSR efforts are important, and for good reason: 90% of surveyed consumers said they’d switch to brands that supported responsible causes. What’s more, a recent study found that 42% of how people feel about a company is based on their perception of the firm’s CSR.

We can all think of great examples of CSR, like Valero’s recent commercial or Nike’s efforts with transparency, from work conditions to climate change. That said, many of the most top-of-mind examples come from B2C companies, not B2B.

How does my company get started?

So, how can B2B companies participate in CSR initiatives to earn trust and bolster their brands? Here are a few top things to consider when building a CSR approach:

Start local. Developing a CSR approach from the ground up takes time—and for good reason: it must be a genuine effort. To get started, build a strong CSR presence in the areas your company’s workforce is focused. Your clients are already doing amazing things in the healthcare community…why not help their efforts? By directly linking your brand and company to the communities it’s present in, you can generate good will with local and regional stakeholders.

Get executive buy-in and regular participation. It’s great to get your local offices or certain department involved, but executive buy-in and participation is crucial to a long-lasting CSR approach. In fact, according to PwC’s recent survey, 64% of CEOs say CSR is core to their business rather than being a stand-alone program. Having your C-suite commit to regularly championing a cause shows passion, consistency and can build trust both internally with employees & externally with stakeholders.

For instance, take Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement in 2015 of donating 99% of his Facebook shares (worth $45 billion dollars) to the “advancement of human potential” and “promotion of equality.” He also created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative which will allow funding to aid non-profit organizations, make private investments and participate in political debates.

Communication is key. Internal and external communication about what you’re doing, how to get involved and what impact you’re having will help you build an authentic, meaningful and long-lasting CSR program that promotes company trust. When there’s a high level of trust in your company, it drives business performance by attracting new customers, retaining existing ones and reducing employee turnover.

What is your company doing this year to stand up a new CSR approach or continue participating in CSR activities?

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