We live in an age where modern capitalism is no longer at loggerheads with giving back.

We’ve long since realised that the old dog-eat-dog model, where amoral money making is king, doesn’t quite sit right with us and how we view our role in the world.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) came from our collective will to see companies make money but also do good in the world, to have a society that is capitalist but also conscious. People now expect more from the companies where they work or buy from, they want them to reflect their values and be able to trust them.

It’s a colossal shift in how consumers think, and so companies now have to listen or risk us flitting off and finding a different brand. As consumers, we’ve finally found our voice and understand how to hold companies to ransom – change your ways or we’ll move on – and it looks like it’s working.

Greener Pastures

It’s not a stretch to say that we all want our companies to do the right thing, to protect us and to improve society. But because we are bombarded by information from all directions and every invention is updating at warp speed, we are finding it harder to see what companies are doing behind the scenes. A bit like walking in a digital sandstorm and trying to find a signpost telling you if you’re going in the right direction.

Recent revelations, such as the Facebook data breach, have made that feeling all too fresh in our minds. In the past, we assumed our rights as consumers were set in stone and as citizens, we were being protected. But we now know that isn’t the case and so we expect those companies to do something about it, and quickly.

We have been moving towards this stand-off for a very long time, we are more aware and more socially minded than ever, so when the bubble officially burst we looked past the business sandstorm and started to see all the shady goings-on.  Our loyalty is wavering, and our eyes are wandering to greener competitors and so companies are starting to quake in their boots and are scrambling to find ways to clean up their act.

Listen to me

Many people are still rightly cynical about conscious capitalism, and its shiny image for doing good. They argue the only reason the big bad corporate wolves are getting on the social responsibility bandwagon is that it actually makes them more money, and not because we are crying out for them to change.

But so what if it that’s true? You can’t change such an ingrained money-making mindset in a generation. So if they help make the world better because they’re scared, doesn’t that mean that we are being listened to?

The best thing about capitalism is that it relies on consumers to keep the wheel turning, and so the consumer actually has a colossal amount of power. It isn’t a coincidence that mega companies spend oodles of their precious dough just to understand what you are thinking about and where your buying habits are going. A good marketer always listens to the consumer, because if you stop listening, you can become irrelevant to your market.

And so, if we as a planet are getting greener and more socially conscious, companies will go in the same direction to keep you sweet and to remain competitive.

Magic number

It’s definitely naïve to think that companies give back because they feel guilty about their murky past and genuinely want to do some good. I’m sure they’re many out there that care, but for most it’s about image, legality, customer loyalty and competitiveness.

But that’s because we as consumers expect more from them and will affect their profits if they don’t do something right now. And so, if that’s how companies are going to change the tide and become positive impactors on the planet, shouldn’t we all be shouting CSR business benefits from our urban rooftops?

Away from the crucial moral reasons why corporate social responsibility is important, there are some pretty practical commercial reasons to start giving back to your community. Here are 3 reasons why doing good also helps your business –

1. Improves your brand image

Modern consumers are more aware and awake than their predecessors, especially so in the younger generations. If you look at societal patterns, the more the youth move into employment and consumer behaviour the more companies are going green. Why? Because younger consumers are much more likely to buy from companies that show their corporate responsibility or their will to be as ethical as possible.

A company’s public image is now at the mercy of social corporate responsibility. Buzzwords like ‘community’ ‘engagement’ ‘social’ and ‘green’ are overused for a reason – they are well received by the public because consumers feel good about buying from a socially responsible company that gives back to society.

The savvy marketer will also tell you that improving your CSR programs will help raise your media presence and exposure in the market, which helps shine a positive light on your business image.

2. Attracts and retains investors or business partnerships

Investors or partners want to know that their money is being used properly. In this day and age that involves not just your business plans and budgets, but your strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Why? Because it shows investors that you don’t just care about profit, you care about brand image, the planet, communities and the longevity of your business. It shows you know how to move with the times and listen to consumer patterns.

Investors also want to see that your employees are being looked after. Any good CSR strategy should have employee wellbeing and empowerement as a core part of the CSR plan, because your social responsibility should be internal as well as external.

3. Improves employee wellbeing and engagement

Scores of studies have shown that when you look after employee wellbeing and career progression it improves motivation, engagement and productivity. It even reduces sick leave and burn-out.

Your workplace will become a much more positive and happier environment which will encourage more creative thinking and better work, which in turn raises your profits. Your employees strengthen your organisation and are interlocked with your business growth and profit, and so when your staff are healthy so is your business.

End to begin

The fact that businesses are sitting up straight and realising how important corporate social responsibility truly is, marks an end to capitalism without conscience. We as consumers want businesses to care about us and the places we live and work, so if the only way to do that is to consume or work elsewhere, that’s what we’ll do, until all businesses reflect our values.

We aren’t quite at a point where all businesses are doing good or are doing enough good, but who knows where the shift in our consumer behaviour could take our businesses of the future. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling quite positive, because when something ends something else usually begins, and I have a feeling this new chapter is a lot greener.

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