Many companies claim to do CSR activities. Many will just say they are contributing to a certain cause. Some companies have this in their DNA. Some use it as a way to promote themselves (and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they actually do those activities and effectively contribute). But a common mistake is to see this as win-lose schema.
When speaking to key CXOs involved in carrying out and/or understanding how these activities benefit the company, there’s always the “impact measure” issue. Most of the decisions are based on the impact those activities have on the people they touch and on the company that organizes or promotes them. “How will the image of the company be improved?” “How much more are we going to sell if we position in that way?” Frequent questions with mostly uncertain answers most of the times.
If you decide to measure those actions based on how much money you’re spending and how much of that returns to the company, you might be doing it all wrong. A large number of authors and executives will state just the opposite, but let’s not get into that discussion right now.
If you’re reading this you probably have experience in doing CSR activities, or at least have been wondering how to start. And no matter where you are, it’s always a great time to re-think your strategy.
CSR is about, in part, creating consciousness that
things can be done in a different, better way.
CSR decisions must be made with one objective: improving the community (or communities) by giving something that is not already available. Or at least at a reasonable or reachable cost. CSR is not (only) about giving money to disadvantaged people. It’s not just about giving a free meal at some event. It’s – and I’m writing based in my opinion and my own experience – about impacting positively in as many lives as possible. It’s about sending a message and creating a wave that will gather more and more people to do the same kind of things. It’s about creating consciousness that things can be done in a different, better way.
Let me give you a simple but clear example: at Belatrix we organize and promote free training. Training is open to everyone no matter if they’re experienced or not, work for Belatrix or for the competition, or have no interest in joining the company. Hundreds of times – if not thousands – we’ve been called crazy. “You’re giving away expertise. You’re giving training for free to your competitors”. We see it as just making the workforce better and more prepared. Everyone wins.
Someone could say it’s just about training your future workshop. We also have programs to benefit unprivileged kids to access education and grow into future professionals, no matter what career they choose.
At any company, fighting to gain competitive edge is part of the DNA of business. You must always have new products, services or attributes to be seen as different from your competitors. How frustrating is it when you see others doing exactly what you’ve done? After you’ve spent many hours of thinking, developing and testing new ideas and capabilities for your product. After you’ve spent many dollars on advertising that you’re the only one. That’s the classic, never-ending competition mentality.
Many times CSR consists of raising the standards to “push” your competitors to start impacting the community as well. There are great examples of competing companies that have partnered just to make great contributions to the society. For me that’s the heart and soul of this. If your competitors start doing the same things that you do, then feel great. You’ve won! But, you didn’t defeat them. You just have the perfect metrics, the right KPI’s to show that your CSR initiatives are worth continuing.
About the Author: Fernando Gonzalez is the Marketing Director of Belatrix Software, based in Mendoza, Argentina. With an entrepreneurial background and a strong passion for marketing and management, Fernando has led multiple projects and worked for several companies in different industries including Tourism, Retail, Technology and Hydrocarbons.
Belatrix Software is a South American company with offices in Naples, New York, Mendoza, and Lima. It provides Software Development Outsourcing Services from its Delivery Centers in Mendoza, Argentina and Lima, Perú. Their clientele includes established Fortune 500 companies and emerging, venture backed firms across different industries, such as Financial Services, Entertainment, Healthcare, Retail, and many others.