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Corporate Social Responsibility: essential, not optional

Studies show that people prefer to do business with socially and environmentally responsible companies, and those companies are reaping the benefits.

Businesses and social responsibility

“The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” That was the blunt and very influential view of famous economist Milton Friedman back in 1970. To him and like-minded proponents of ‘Pure Capitalism’, the only way a corporation should contribute to society was by paying its taxes. He argued that acts of ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR) were nothing more than a ‘tax on shareholders’ raised at the whim of senior managers who should really be getting on with the job of making money.

Times have changed. Like many fads in the Seventies, Friedman’s argument hasn’t aged too well. And although some businesses still see CSR as an unnecessary distraction or an afterthought to bolt onto a marketing campaign, many more now understand modern consumers.

A change in the business climate

Customers today are savvier than ever before and take the impact of business on the environment very seriously. They are wary of manufacturers who might be exploiting underpaid workers in developing countries, and they’ve had enough of multinationals moving their profits around to avoid taxes.

This isn’t just a matter of opinion. Studies have shown people prefer to do business with socially and environmentally responsible companies. A Deloitte survey in 2021 is typical; it shows that 32% of consumers regard themselves as ‘highly engaged’ with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, and 28% reporting they had stopped using certain products on the grounds of concerns over ethics or sustainability.

This Deloitte research shows that customers expect businesses to take the lead – to find ways to be more sustainable and provide enough information to help people make informed choices. The companies that have made an effort are reaping the benefits, with research showing increased CSR activity leads to a better corporate image and increased customer loyalty [Emerald report].

The increasing sense of alarm about climate change is probably the most important issue to the ethically-minded consumer today. As you might expect, this is driving a transformation in customer behaviour, with an IPSOS report finding that almost 70% of people worldwide have already changed products or services due to climate change concerns.

You must appeal to the next generation

While CSR is increasingly important across all age ranges, it’s likely that ‘Generation Z’ will drive the trend further. These young people are currently leaving education and starting their first jobs. Their importance as customers will only increase in the coming years. Marketers have identified them as idealists who readily take up causes and are ethically motivated. As this generation gains spending power at home and decision-making positions at work, any business wishing to engage with them will need to have CSR front and centre in its business plan.

 How your IT disposal policy can affect your CSR standing

An easy way for your business to immediately boost its CSR credentials and deliver genuine social and environmental benefits is to look at your IT asset disposal policy (ITAD). Working with a reputable partner to refurbish and repurpose your old or damaged equipment will help give disadvantaged communities the opportunities that only equal access to technology can bring. In addition, by extending the lifetime of these products, you drive down the need for new replacements, making a significant saving in greenhouse gas emissions. To read more about this, look at our article: Scope 3 emissions – the hidden extras that can wreck your green credentials and how to avoid them.Scope 3 emissions: how to avoid ‘SCOPE’ when reducing your school’s carbon footprint

This is a powerful way of demonstrating your commitment to wider social responsibilities to your customers. They will increasingly demand this level of responsibility from anyone they do business with.

If you want to add responsible, ethical ITAD to your CSR plan,

contact our team now to find out how easy it is.