‘Companies need to do more than make profits- they need to contribute to the society as well if they want to receive support from BlackRock.’ These were the remarks of the largest investor in the world, with $6 Trillion in investments, Laurence Fink, founder and CEO of BlackRock. These remarks stand for what most investors across the world hold and believe in. In addition to the company goals, a company has a responsibility to the society.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly becoming a vital tool in companies across the world. This is due to the different roles it plays: from being a marketing tool, to the tool that enhances teamwork in a company. Companies center their CSR activities on social issues like health, education and the environment, and other issues that are relevant to the customers and other crucial publics.
Through CSR, companies have created, improved and maintained good brand images. This has led to their stock prices and profit indexes improving. Notably ,companies that stand out and dominate national, regional and world markets are characterized by active and relevant CSR. Some of these companies are Microsoft, Apple, Google, Walt Disney, Standard Chartered, Equity Bank (Africa), among others. Recent studies show that most people would rather spend more on companies involved in active CSR activities than those that do not. This explains their high profits and increase in stock prices.
However, as time changes, and the number of companies involved in different CSR activities increases, the public is keen on knowing what these companies really stand for. There is more scrutiny of CSR activities on social media. Social media provides an large platform for people to engage one another, ask their questions about CSR activities and air their opinions. Through social media, companies have the avenue to address the issues raised and have interactional conversations with the different publics. The concern about the sincerity of these CSR activities could be as a result of some cases of companies using the social problems and ‘CSR’ activities for their own selfish gains, and not the community’s.
Creative and innovative solutions to societal issues strengthen the brand image among its different publics.
Human vulnerabilities present in companies are a huge threat to the brand image. These vulnerabilities include sexual harassment, gender equity and equality, equal pay and diversity at the workplace. Social activists are keen on exposing them thus a company should be more sensitive to its vulnerabilities, and work on them. By recognizing the vulnerabilities present, a company is able to correct and improve them. This in turn improves the brand reputation, thus its image.
Having a diverse work force gives your company a plus since it shows you are accommodating. Issue of equal pay for different gender, within the same job group and same qualifications is important. Employees should not feel left or discriminated due to their personal attributes. These are some of the issues that are often ignored by some brands, but end up costing the brand it’s reputation and image.
A positive brand image is created and maintained by the creation of a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and its different publics. This is possible through the company performing it’s duties to the society, and being more sensitive to its vulnerabilities.