The credit markets are tightening their belts (or bottlenecks) and chances are many business leaders are looking to trim the fat off the edges. Next year’s budgets will reflect the fiscal judiciousness of the obsessive profiteer. Nothing wrong with that, really. It’s why business is in business – to make money for the owners/shareholders. And that is exactly why CSR should be evaluated as a long term, comparably inexpensive option for achieving the bottom line.
Toby Webb, who writes a blog for the Ethical Corporation, makes a provocative case for CSR in times of fiscal neurosis. He offers the following 10 reasons why CSR may be the perfect strategy for companies in today’s economic realities. (I have listed the top five. For the full discussion, follow this link.)
- It can be cheap. CSR that does not radically alter business models does not cost that much. And, as we all know, can save money. As anyone from Boots to Wal-Mart will tell you, going greener often saves money. CFOs will like that. Make the case to them, convince them that what you are proposing helps the bottom line. They may have forgotten and started thinking its all socialist plot again. Some stats on their desk might help.
- Reputation and transparency are still key. In fact, they are now even more important. If you let people go, you need those you keep to understand why you did it. And how you did it in the best way possible. You still need talent, and talented people want to know you are well regarded.
- Green advertising has gone mainstream. People care about green if it delivers efficiency, particularly for them. So communicating well is still key, and a green/efficient message may still resonate well.
- Newspapers are even hungrier for copy that sells. And companies provide excellent cannon fodder for editors. Ethics related cutbacks, poor customer service and extended payment terms will all start making the news. Keeping an eye on over-eager internal plans and how they might go against your values statements can help keep things consistent. No board wants to see panic, so re-iterating values in tough times may help keep things in check.
- Trim the fat. Become more evidence-based in your approach without upsetting partners who may go to the media in better times. This time they may be more understanding. Being more rigourous will only help when things pick up again.