The article is a few years old (from 2014), but I recently came across, “Why You Shouldn’t Jump on Corporate Social Responsibility.” I love the article, mostly because it makes the point: in order for CSR to be successful, it has to be authentic.
Think about it this way: If Pepsi were to become one of the biggest supporters of “Black Lives Matter” now – after the commercial they released last week with Kendall Jenner – people would be suspicious. If United Airlines announces tomorrow that it’s financially backing NGOs in China, there would be a lot of skepticism. It wouldn’t be genuine. It would be for the purpose of trying to save themselves from all the recent bad publicity.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the best thing you can do for your company is to ensure its long-term success. Sell your product/service. Stay in business. Make a nice profit. Keep people employed. Then you can leverage your success through CSR.
To be authentic, this means having an internal champion to lead your CSR efforts. It means engaging your employees so that your CSR strategy is reflective of your company’s values. It means sharing your story in an intentional and thoughtful manner – not just for positive press. Be genuine. Be real. But only when your business is ready to make the commitment.