7 Ways to Make Corporate Responsibility Part of Your Business Strategy

7 Ways to Make Corporate Responsibility Part of Your Business Strategy
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For many years, before the term “corporate responsibility” existed, a company’s altruism was primarily judged in terms of the dollars it contributed to worthy causes.

While there are still many philanthropic endeavors worthy of financial support, they now represent just one aspect of being a responsible, socially aware business. Many consumers today are concerned about where the products they purchase originate, where the money they spend ends up and how much damage is done to the environment during the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.

Here are some steps to develop a culture of awareness and responsibility.

1. Know what's going on

If you produce products in developing countries, or purchase products from suppliers that do so, make sure you keep tabs on working conditions at the source. It may make financial sense to outsource production to those regions, but the damage done to your reputation could wipe out those gains if you’re found to be using impoverished workers, child labor or unsafe working conditions.

2. Go green

Green is now a color for all seasons. Search for sustainability opportunities in your manufacturing processes, distribution and physical infrastructure. Solar power, recycled materials, water-saving bathroom fixtures and energy-saving light fixtures have become a staple of new construction and renovation projects.

3. Integrate corporate social responsibility with your business’s objective

Too often, businesses execute their social responsibility in a scattered fashion, with initiatives originating from many parts of the organization. Instead, a business may want to consider limiting its initiatives to those that are linked directly to what the business knows and does, to something that it is an expert in, or something that it can tie into its business. For example, Starbucks is working to minimize its environmental impact and working with farmers to run their businesses in an environmentally mindful way.

4. Train your people

Awareness and responsibility are qualities rooted in strong ethics. With that in mind, hire people who demonstrate strong moral footing and teach them to utilize good ethics in the decisions they make. If you drill your people regarding the importance of fair, ethical thinking as an integral part of your company’s decision-making process, you’ll help maintain it as a part of your culture.

5. Develop a committee

A corporate social responsibility plan, particularly for a larger company, requires internal people who maintain a working knowledge of the issues at hand and can formulate a response plan. By recruiting people from within your ranks to form a corporate responsibility committee, you are developing a proactive approach and will be able to mobilize resources faster as your company spearheads new initiatives.

6. Put money back in

Philanthropy still plays an important role in any culture of responsibility. In the days of Andrew Carnegie, that might have meant building a new library. Now, the needs are global, as far as donating funds and manpower to build an irrigation system for a village in Central America or as near as supporting a local soup kitchen. But don’t just sign the check. Promote the cause. Send volunteers when possible. There is a difference between financial support and getting involved.

7. Communicate your corporate initiatives

Many businesses fail to share their stories, resulting in the impression that they are doing nothing. While they may spend millions on branding, they fail to link the ways that their products, services and business contribute to a better world. Today’s consumers are increasingly taking into account a company’s corporate social responsibility, but they can’t make purchasing decisions based on information they do not have.

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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.