Once seen as a peripheral to a company’s main business strategy, corporate social responsibility is now becoming standard practice. But, unless CSR intentions and outcomes are communicated wisely, a company risks being accused of “spinning” or appearing to be self-promotional.
There are many ways for a company to integrate a social impact program into their business approach. Certainly the method will vary depending on organizational purpose, size, and industry but – one thing is for certain – the approach should take into account all of its stakeholders, i.e. employees, customers, shareholders, community, supply chain and the environment.
Integrated authentically and intentionally, marketing and public relations are the means that can share the progress made by embracing the strategic nature of shared value. No company wants their social enterprise efforts to achieve the opposite results of what was intended.
To avoid this, companies need to build upon their smart business actions by constantly assessing and improving. By doing so, they will begin to show their integrity and build consistency.
It is important for companies to deploy factual information when marketing social impact results. By measuring efforts, companies will collect data and be able to disclose outcomes that will show relevancy to their stakeholders.
For instance, if a company has certain programs for employees, like paid volunteer hours, it would be important to measure the total contributed and the breakdown of the types of organizations touched.
Other purpose-driven initiatives might not be as simple to measure; in that case, the authenticity and, ultimately, consistency will be key. If a company is utilizing their business as a means to impact an industry, a community issue or social movement, it will be important to be bold and not to backtrack or waffle on their stance.
The bottom line is to understand how your company is attempting to be a force for good, regularly assess your strategic plan, make improvements as warranted, measure the outcomes, and only communicate factual data and real-life impacts.
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