CSR: An acronym worth knowing

Anthony O'Brien


August 14, 2017

One of the better by-products of social media, is the fact that corporate social responsibility, or CSR, has become more significant.

Companies these days are very focused on promoting how they care about issues such as the environment, gender equality and so on that impact the wider community. These include AGL’s environment campaign, which is spruiking the energy company’s efforts to move away from coal, ANZ’s gender equality campaign, and Westpac’s cash offer those opening accounts for their bubs in 2017.

Clearly there will be the cynics who will argue that large corporate entities such as those mentioned above actually believe in their CSR programs. Or it is simply a way of winning favour in a world where supporting the wrong cause will see a brand bashed up mercilessly by the media shock jocks and outraged social media warriors. CSR, however in our opinion, is a powerful marketing tool when employed ethically by business.

Showcase what you believe in

Nearly every business, large and small have moved to showcasing their CSR programs. And with good reason given that many clients now look to a firm’s CSR program as part of the buying decision. For small business, including most financial planners, what causes to support will be based on personal choices and motivations. There’s certainly a sales and marketing advantage in publicly supporting a cause close to your heart.

Whether its displaying your support for a local charity or not-for-profit organisation such as a surf lifesaving club, or showcasing your firm’s local environmental initiatives, it provides clients with a window into what you stand for as a business owner.

Don’t be fake about it

The passion I’ve referenced above is important. You don’t want to support causes for the sake of having a CSR program. People can often see through this quickly, and in the end it will do more harm than good. Therefore, forget any cheap gimmicks, as I guarantee it will blow up in your face.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to involve your team in the process. There’s a fair chance your staff will have causes or issues they are passionate about. Involving them can help open your eyes to potential CSR causes, while be sure to involve them in the selection process. If your staff are engaged, this passion is more likely to flow to your clients as well.


A great example of doing it well

One of our technology clients in Victoria, Business Technology Specialists (BTS), have made a very strong commitment to CSR, one of the best we have seen. The Geelong-based firm supports a mix of local sporting clubs and charities, the arts and individuals, who are doing it tough and need some extra financial support.

If you’re pondering how to get started with a CSR program, BTS’ managing director Stan Corner wrote an excellent thought leadership piece on how to build something that works for everyone involved. It’s worth a read.

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