The only way is ethics
MARKETERS are under increasing pressure to understand the brave new world of CSV (creating shared value) and brand citizenship, if they are to embed social value within their businesses and meet the needs of a more socially-aware public.
When you say corporate social responsibility (CSR), what comes to mind? The option to donate to a local charity at your local supermarket checkout? Or is it the other end of the spectrum, a global corporate initiative that supports a charity you've never heard of?
The original grand idea for CSR came from a good place. Its goal was to help businesses use their influence and profits to engage in worthwhile initiatives alongside their key objectives. It worked well for a few decades – but for many modern consumers, it's no longer enough. Consumers now have the tools to make increasingly well-informed choices, allowing us all to check if brands are keeping up to their promises.
A recent survey of 1,500 online consumers aged 15 and over, from marketing insight business GfK, found that consumers' “chief expectation is that companies carry out their primary function well, but also in a socially and ethically responsible fashion.”
It's clear, therefore, that consumers now very much care about the ethics of companies. In fact, the OECD recently reported that investors who consider environmental and social issues in their decisions represent a portfolio of at least £59 trillion in assets under management.
Additionally, marketers should take note of the fact that employees also care about wider CSR issues such as diversity and inclusion and are, for example, championing women in tech by hosting developer meetups – such actions are common practise, rather than an added extra.
Making consumers aware of the ethical activities your organisation undertakes should be a renewed priority for marketers in all industries. This May, CIM Ireland's Marketing Awards launched with 18 new categories, including a new Corporate Social Responsibility Category, reflecting the fact that companies in Ireland are consistently and imaginatively pushing the boundaries in CSR.
Ireland in particular has a huge number of innovative marketers with CSR in their hearts. USEL is one such organisation, who I am closely associated with, who #championsability via its vintage satchels, mattresses manufacture, many recycling ventures and now a catering facility in Knockbracken Healthcare Park. Others are adopting a people-focused approach, such as Madlug, a "community interest company" that sells bags as a way of ensuring that young people leaving foster care don't carry their possessions with them in a black bag and instead have a backpack.
In my opinion, and pardon the pun, but ‘the only way is ethics'. If you feel your company is delivering on its CSR claims, do consider getting recognition through the 18th annual CIM Ireland Awards. Visit the CIM website for more details and do remember the closing date is September 28 at 3pm. Entry is free and open to members and non members at: www.cim.co.uk/events/ireland-awards-2018/
:: Carol Magill is CIM network manager for Ireland