The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Manufacturing
It’s difficult to imagine what our world would be like without the manufacturing sector. But as the economy has become more competitive, consumers and even other businesses now have more options to choose from when it comes time to select products from the brands they trust.
Ultimately, these choices aren’t only about the quality or the cost of the products themselves. Many customers are willing to pay more or wait longer for a product or service they know has a larger beneficial impact. If it’s clear that the provider has invested in improving the world while creating an excellent product, they choose to support that business.
That really comes down to Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR). Let’s discuss what CSR is and why it’s such an essential factor for manufacturers to keep in mind when building their brand, developing products, and marketing their offerings.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
First, let’s define CSR. You can think of CSR as any concrete action taken by a business to improve the local community, our society, and the entire planet. That might sound like a tall order, but it can actually involve some relatively small changes — like reducing carbon emissions, recycling and reusing materials, decreasing water waste, or giving to charitable organizations.
At its most basic level, CSR should showcase the larger responsibility a business has to leave the world in a better state than it was before. And while CSR often does involve sustainable practices, it can extend beyond eco-friendliness to include other improvements that have a positive impact on the local area and the world-at-large.
Why is CSR Important For the Manufacturing Sector?
Now that you understand what CSR is, you might be wondering whether it really matters for manufacturers. But as N. Craig Smith, associate dean of the London Business School, summed up to Industry Week: “There’s a tendency to think of corporate social responsibility as philanthropy and not thinking of it in terms of what it is fundamentally about, which are the obligations a firm has to society.”
In other words, your CSR isn’t something you should focus on only when you have extra resources or want to do something nice for others, it should be woven into your operations and the very fabric of your brand.
Why? Because customers care about it. Environmental and social responsibility aren’t merely trends or buzz words. They can have a huge impact on your brand perception, which means they can make all the difference when it comes time for a consumer to choose between you and a competitor. CSR improves your brand equity with stakeholders and investors, and brand performance overall.
Research shows that consumers will actively support brands that are seen as doing the right thing. Data from Cone Communications shows that 90% of people would purchase from a company because the brand supports a cause they care about — but 75% would not make a purchase from a company that supports an issue that doesn’t align with their own beliefs. What’s more, 92% of consumers have a more positive perception of companies that support social and environmental initiatives.
Although studies on the impact of CSR have mainly focused on the impact of these initiatives on final consumers, it’s important to keep in mind that CSR is just as important for the B2B world. The businesses you work with also have their own plans for corporate social responsibility — which means they may want proof that the vendors they work with are doing their part to help the world around them.
How to start your CSR activities
But how to introduce CSR in your operations if you have never worked with CSR before? Here are three tips that can give you a headstart on your competitors:
Long Term Thinking
First of all, the key to effective CSR is to think long-term. Long-term initiatives to lessen the environmental and social impact of manufacturing improve company-stakeholders relationships.
Start a Collaboration with Non-Profit Organizations
To better fulfill your CSR goals, it can be useful to partner with local or international Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs), or governmental organizations, especially if you aren’t sure how to approach and manage social initiatives.
Use the Right Tool
CSR initiatives can be difficult to manage, that’s why choosing the right tool to do so is essential. If you’re not used to managing social initiatives, it’s important for you to choose the right technology to help you and your organization. Here you can find some pointers on how to do that.
Transforming your production process is everything but easy, however, as we mentioned before, long term thinking is key. Gradually moving towards more sustainable products and manufacturing methods can help your company keep stakeholders’ engagement high and build with them a long-lasting relationship and improve your enterprise’s overall performance.
“Just like Michelin, the Foundation’s standing is global and its ‘Helping people move forward’ signature illustrates its sponsorship projects’ human dimension, mediums of progress and social development.” Jean-Dominique Senard, President of the Executive Board of the Michelin Corporate Foundation
From this, it’s clear that the days of staying neutral are behind us. While this doesn’t mean you need to be divisive, it does mean that consumers from all walks of life want to know you’re doing everything in your power to improve the world in which we live. And for all kinds of businesses, including those in the manufacturing sector, that means it’s essential to take action and emphasize CSR.
To know more about how Optimy has been helping manufacturing companies click here.