Corporate social responsibility is something that many companies strive to uphold. Whether it be through eco-friendly manufacturing, diverse hiring practices, or community engagement, companies who invest time and money into socially responsible projects can look great to future candidates and the general public. However, some business owners may be tempted to tout socially responsible practices without following through, or may only enact a practice when they think it will get them good PR. There are several dangers to this mindset, so let’s look at what you can expect from inauthentic corporate social responsibility.
Employees are not naive, even at the lowest levels of a company. Initiatives that do not seem to truly come from a place of care and compassion will be obvious to anyone who works for that company. If these policies and procedures are put in place to distract employees from other issues, the company may be left with disgruntled workers. Additionally, if the company pledges its efforts and does not follow through, employees may begin to lose morale with the company very quickly. It is essential that, if you wish to pursue corporate social responsibility, you do so authentically in order to get your employees on-board with your efforts.
When a company states that it wishes to support a particular socially responsible cause, the public takes notice. This is doubly so for companies that do not keep up their end of the bargain, or which showcase other behaviors that go against their mission. For example, if a company’s CEO lobbies for less environmental restrictions, but their company promises to be eco-friendly, the public may see this as pandering. Companies can lose people who support this cause, as they feel betrayed by the actions of the people in charge. Companies could also lose people who do not necessarily support the cause, as their motivations may be seen as shifty.
What ultimately happens when a company inauthentically promotes corporate social responsibility? Unfortunately, there is no good outcome. Temporarily, employees and the public may be satisfied with the steps forward. However, in time, the truth will come to light and people will turn on the leadership. There is no substitute for truly responsible practices and good intentions along with them. If you are considering making public pledges of corporate social responsibility, be sure it is for the right reasons to avoid a major company disaster.