The demands of consumers are ever changing. According to the Reputation Institute, a private global consulting firm in New York, 60 percent of the motivation behind a consumer’s attachment to a given brand is the person’s perception of the company. To fulfill these needs, companies have developed corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. While critics have labelled such policies as cynical, the positive returns cannot be denied, especially when corporations partner with NGOs.
CSR policies are essentially business practices which lead to sustainable development by delivering economic, social or environmental benefits. Fundamentally, it is corporations’ means of acknowledging and accepting responsibility for the impact of their business operations. Examples of effective CSR policies are book publishers switching to 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper for all printed publications and companies installing solar panels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For corporations exercising good CSR, benefits include improved public images and increased media coverage, both of which draw investors and consumers. Such policies tend to enhance employee engagement due to the increased pride workers feel. Indeed, employees are among the greatest beneficiaries. Businesses that are sincere in their adoption of CSR policies tend to focus on creating positive working environments, while placing an emphasis on promoting creativity, professional growth, and individual philanthropy.
Naturally, these gains reach NGOs too, stemming from the formation of corporate partnerships and all that such collaborations entail. NGOs receive varied sources of revenue including corporate contributions and corporate gift-matching programs. Additionally, after corporate partnerships are established, NGOs often see an influx of volunteers who are employed by their corporate partners. These increased resources – human and financial – result in greater social impact, enhanced idea generation, and the means to implement them.
Ideally, nonprofit organizations will be given relative autonomy, acting as a conduit for corporations’ aid. One such example is the partnership between Chiquita Banana and the Rainforest Alliance, a relationship which began in 1992. Once notorious for clear-cutting forests, polluting waterways, and exposing workers to dangerous agrochemicals, Chiquita has since been certified as “sustainable” according to the rigorous social criteria established by the Rainforest Alliance. As a result of this partnership, they have saved 10.868 million acres of rainforest from destruction. Maintaining those tracts is equivalent to removing the annual emissions of 351,536 cars. Additionally, Chiquita’s workers now receive a living wage, relative autonomy in the workplace, and an education in green management, an effort to ensure a sustainable livelihood for employees.
Embrace Relief aligns itself with the principles outlined by the UN’s Global Compact, which unites a diverse body of UN agencies, governments, civil and labor organizations. In furtherance of its principles – comprising human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, among others – the Global Compact seeks widespread adoption of these practices within the business world, in order to effect greater support for its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Entirely voluntary, over 4,100 companies in more than 100 countries adhere to the initiative. To learn more, please visit www.unglobalcompact.org.
It should be noted that many companies with robust CSR strategies experience a marked increase in profits after implementation. But whatever the motives behind adoption, such policies cause companies to develop “consciences,” leading to increased efficiency, less waste, and greater quality of life for customers, employees, and the communities in which the companies conduct business, especially when allied with NGOs. When acting in the best interests of society by implementing effective, strategic, and sustainable CSR policies, everyone gains.
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