Values and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Values are much more than just Corporate Social Responsibility. Understood, articulated and embedded values are a crucial part of the DNA of an organisation. Good CSR practices stem from a solid and aware values base. Unfortunately, CSR for many companies is no more than an issue of PR, of risk management. No less a person than Matthew Bishop, of the Rockefeller Foundation and previously the business editor of the Economist has admitted that:
“Companies are funding CSR initiatives not because they are in the best interest of the company or shareholders but to get NGO’ s [Non Governmental Organisations] off their backs”
So it is no surprise that there are plenty of surveys showing that consumers have very little trust in many UK and International companies.
82% of consumers prefer to purchase goods and services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible, including 23% who would choose to do so even if the ethical option is more expensive.
However, the vast majority are unable to put that principle into practice due to a lack of clear and credible information about the ethical practices of companies.
Only 2% say they mostly have enough information to judge the ethical position of companies whilst 73% say they lack such information most of the time.
This is not to say that there are not many businesses sincerely trying to behave in an ethical way and who can be punished when they get it wrong, as many have found. The difficulty for many organisations is that values and ethical behaviour is not naturally part of their way of life, their DNA, in the way that it is, or should be.
If customers trust your colleagues, employees and staff, they are more likely to believe them when they explain about products, services or policy. Customers and stakeholders, rooted in local communities, are an immense resource for promoting and developing business. A clear reason, if needed, for educating them, in all ways available.