Fostering Corporate Social Responsibility in All Industries

Consumers don’t choose where to spend their money in a vacuum. Increasingly, customers are paying attention to how brands create a better world by adopting tenets of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

By giving back to community charities or reducing environmental waste, companies are signaling their values, and the effort often pays off in larger profit margins. Consumer product companies promoting their environmental and social goals averaged 28% cumulative growth over the past five years versus 20% growth for companies that didn’t make those claims, according to a 2023 study.

Through Florida Gulf Coast University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, rising business leaders will gain the leadership skills and global awareness they need to implement social responsibility goals and boost their company’s reputation in the process.

Defining Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR dates back to at least the 1930s. During that period, executives began to see how their goals of maximizing profits and meeting the needs of their community, employee workforce and investors went hand in hand, according to research in the International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Today, CSR refers to how companies measure their impact on society through environmental, ethical, philanthropic and economic goals, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation. Often, a company’s efforts to reduce pollution in manufacturing, increase renewable energy use or plant trees to make up for deforestation take center stage — and for good reason. Efforts to reduce plastic packaging or lower energy use help businesses cut costs while building goodwill among consumers.

However, businesses show their commitment to charitable contributions, fair treatment of workers and volunteering in other ways as well. Employees of a small catering business could give their time and food to charity fundraising events, while a large clothing manufacturer can encourage waste reduction by donating overstock to homeless shelters.

Brands also tout their dedication to helping workers and diverse populations succeed. For example, Home Depot reports investing more than 1 million hours each year in training for its store employees alongside a commitment to spend $5 billion per year with diverse suppliers by 2025, according to Investopedia.

Measuring Impact on Brand Reputation and Employee Morale

Companies that make public commitments to charitable causes and environmental progress often improve their brand reputation with existing and potential customers, according to Business News Daily. More than half of the U.S. population identifies as part of the Millennial generation or younger, and this population’s dedication to socially conscious business practices is only growing.

“Consumers deserve to share in the good feelings associated with doing the right thing, and many surveys have found that consumers are inclined to purchase a sustainable product over a conventional alternative,” Susan Cooney, head of global diversity and inclusion at Symantec, told Business News Daily.

Companies should be wary of coming across as inauthentic or solely looking for marketing success. Business leaders should find nonprofit organization partners that relate directly to their company’s mission and support those causes in the long term, not just for a one-time image boost.

Creating a strong social responsibility strategy also helps employers recruit and retain workers. Employees want to be associated with a company that pays attention to the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and revenue, Cooney said.

Gain Global and Ethical Awareness With Florida Gulf Coast University

Students in Florida Gulf Coast University’s online MBA program learn how to create a positive work culture with dual focuses on profitability and social responsibility. Coursework focused on global organization issues and managerial economics provides students with the fundamentals of business decision-making and the cross-cultural skills they need to navigate tough legal, ethical and environmental issues.

The degree program offers graduates the chance to personalize their MBAs with concentrations in Management – Leadership or Data Analytics. Regardless of their focus, graduates will leave with a greater understanding of how their business can simultaneously improve profitability and leave the world a better place.

Learn more about Florida Gulf Coast University’s online MBA program.

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