When you hear the phrase Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), what comes to mind? To many individuals, this concept is ‘something only large corporations do’ and is not applicable to small and medium-sized businesses. On the contrary, Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral aspect of business success and can prove particularly beneficial to the pest control industry.
The notion of CSR, which dates back almost a hundred years, has evolved in different ways, but in its simplest form, CSR involves making a positive impact on society. How your company chooses to approach being socially responsible can take many shapes, but the most common CSR efforts fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Philanthropic responsibility: This avenue is the most prominent form of CSR in many businesses, and it involves donating money, time, products or services to social causes and organizations in the community with the overall aim of actively making an impact in society.
- Ethical responsibility: In this category, companies conduct their business ethically, in a manner that supports human rights, including ensuring fair treatment of employees and customers and, in some cases, speaking up in situations of injustice and discrimination.
- Economic responsibility: This is where companies make financial decisions on a commitment to doing good in society. Company leaders are challenged to look beyond profit margins and instead incorporate CSR into the fabric of the company and all its financial decisions.
- Sustainable responsibility: This area calls for a commitment to sustainability operations, which may include reducing pollution, opting for sustainable resources and increasing the use of renewable energy.
There are many other ways companies can engage in CSR, and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the world is a great resource to get started. These SDGs range from good health and well-being to quality education to reduced inequalities and much more. For a smoother integration of CSR programs, it is best to review your company’s mission and values and select the cause or initiative that best aligns with your business.
Most people will agree that it is good to do good. But why should CSR be incorporated into standard business practice? Well, the success of a business is no longer solely based on profit. It now involves the company’s impact (positive or negative) on the surrounding community, environment and economy. A survey from Sprout Social showed that regardless of their political views, a majority of consumers (70%) believe it is important for brands to take a stand on public issues.
There are two key benefits to implementing CSR initiatives in your business:
- Brand perception and loyalty: CSR can give companies a competitive advantage in the industry because as you advocate for causes that correspond with your company’s values, your business remains top-of-mind to consumers aligned with those causes. Many consumers want to support companies that positively contribute to society, and consistent CSR can yield loyalty and customer retention. According to Harris Poll research commissioned by Google Cloud, 82% of consumers want a brand’s values to align with their own, and as many as three-quarters of consumers reported parting ways with a brand over a conflict in values. Also, dynamic CSR efforts can garner positive press coverage and, as a result, aid in refining your company’s image and boosting brand awareness.
- Employee attraction and retention: It is not only consumers who are drawn to companies that give back to their communities. Employees want to work for a company with strong social values, and CSR can be pivotal in attracting and retaining talent in the workforce, as that can sometimes be a challenge. Research from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) showed that nearly 90% of employees engaged in their company’s sustainability work say it enhances their job satisfaction and overall feelings about their company. As your business becomes more socially responsible and you include your employees in your philanthropic efforts, they, in return, become more engaged and encouraged to continue the work they are doing. CSR in your company gives people the opportunity and the platform they need to make a difference, not just in their communities but in the larger society.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to CSR. Are you supporting little leagues in your communities this spring season, sponsoring a tree-planting event, raising awareness of Lyme disease, or advocating for individuals to take charge of their health and well-being? Whatever avenue you choose to follow, it is imperative that it comes from a place of authenticity and genuine interest in the cause or issue at hand. CSR is not a quick marketing fix or one-time public relations boost. It needs to be integrated into the core of the business culture and operations, as consumers can often detect the insincerity of certain CSR efforts. When properly implemented, CSR programs can prove to be valuable not just for your company but for the entire pest industry, as we all play a role in shaping the perceptions and eventual attitudes of consumers towards the pest control community.