The people who matter most to businesses are increasingly demanding that companies serve a social purpose; that companies share their success with the world to make it a better place.
Defining corporate responsibility
When we talk about Corporate Responsibility (CR), we’re talking about how companies enhance the world. A good CR program shows strength in three areas: Governance, Citizenship, and Workplace.
Governance: ethics, fairness, transparency
Citizenship: positive social influence, environmental consciousness
Workplace: fairness with employees, well-being, equal opportunity
According to our global CR RepTrak research, companies with high scores in their CR programs gain financial results that drive business; an increase in CR score yields an increase in public willingness to invest in that company.
Of course, there are other benefits to increasing your CR, like becoming an employer of choice, an increase in advocacy, building trust, and, of course, saving lives. All of which further help develop a better reputation.
The following companies are leaders in CR, so if you’re challenged to develop fresh ideas, implementation, and process, look to these for inspiration.
Be inspired by these companies...
While IKEA could do more to support its customers by simplifying its furniture assembly process, it is not slacking off when it comes to bigger initiatives, like saving the world.
The Swedish mega-chain works globally to support communities in crisis by building schools, donating toys, and facilitating access to drinking water.
In 2018 alone, the IKEA Foundation donated $2.3 million to bring clean electricity to a combined 1 million people in India and East Africa. For these efforts and more, IKEA moved up from 13th place in our CR RepTrak ranking in 2017 to No. 10 in 2018.
The LEGO Group ranked No. 3 in 2018’s findings and was No. 1 the year before.
The company’s success in CR is a result of its transparency and societal contribution; the LEGO Group is the only company to have a strong score in Governance. Thanks to efforts like partnering with the WWF, launching plant-based LEGOs in 2018, and investing in wind power, it is moving toward its goal of being zero-waste in operations by 2030.
The LEGO Group is an example of a company whose products are in complete alignment with its values on societal contribution and business transparency.
The tech company came in at No. 6 last year, but was No. 2 the year before. It has remained in the top 10 because it operates an open-source platform that values good Citizenship and Governance. It’s also big on enhancing education.
Plus, the company has a reputation for having socially responsible people in leadership roles, starting with co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates, who is still a major shareholder. He is well-known for giving back through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and current CEO Satya Nadella is also a proponent of social and environmental responsibility.
The Body Shop
While this cosmetics company did not rank in the CR RepTrak top 10, its longstanding philanthropic efforts should be recognized and revered. The Body Shop is considered a pioneer of CR because it was one of the first companies to publish a sustainability report.
Founder Anita Roddick championed self-esteem, environmental protection, animal rights, community trade, and human rights. The Body Shop sponsored posters for Greenpeace in 1985 and presented a petition against animal testing with 8 million signatures to the European Union in a campaign called Forever Against Animal Testing in 2018. It is committed to becoming the world’s most ethical and sustainable global business by 2020.
What can you do to get started?
You're an environmentally-conscious, people-first, executive wanting your company to do more to make the world better. Sounds great on paper, but the reality involves significant organization, executive and investor buy-in, in addition to a superior communication rollout both internally and externally.
Whether launching a new CR program or ramping up an existing one, we encourage you to start small. Maybe it's a Sustainability Committee that encourages employees to carpool, or to reduce water or paper usage. Encourage employees, not only those working in corporate communications, but staff across the globe from all sorts of departments and backgrounds to collaborate on this endeavor.
Whatever it is that you do, be sure to communicate it loudly and proudly. We find there are many companies who are doing great things, but not getting credit for it. If you're doing good work in CR, feel free to shout it from the rooftops!
If you'd like to learn more, check out our CR eBook and stay tuned for more later this year.