COVID-19 & CSR: Time to step up and build an equitable society
The COVID-19 pandemic has left the world grappling with a health, economic and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. The impact of the staggered lockdown on economic activity with industries and businesses across various sectors shutting down has had a crippling effect.
Considering the magnitude of the crisis, it is apparent that the government would appreciate support from individuals and organisations. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented yet another opportunity to companies to make good on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments.
CSR is about integrating purpose into an organisation’s core philosophy and mission and utilising the organisations’ core strengths to help larger, societal needs, which is of great urgency now. Over the past few years, the corporate world has witnessed a seismic shift in the way organisations measure their success.
While financial fortunes and year-over-year growth figures remain important barometers of prosperity, companies are realising that the general public is now emphasising their contributions to society.
In the last few months, the government has declared a slew of relief packages aimed at restarting the economy and infusing liquidity into the market. No other time is as critical as now for social work and despite trying times, various firms are putting in every effort to fulfil their responsibilities in the wake of the pandemic.
Along with this, there is great opportunity to help save people’s lives and provide them with basic needs like food and shelter in the wake of rain and floods ravaging several parts of the country. Social work in such a context will help companies grow in stature and generate trust in them among the people. So let us understand the positives that emerge out of CSR for a company. Here are a few of them:
Companies are now viewed by their impact on society
Organisations are assessed on financial performance, the quality of their products or services and increasingly by their impact on society at large, transforming them from business enterprises into social enterprises.
A survey has shown that 77 percent of companies consider CSR an important activity, which benefit both the company as well as the environment, economic and social sectors of society.
Heightens brand value
Being socially responsible brings recognition to the company and demonstrates that it is more than just about profitability. More people in society get to know about the company and its good work. The brand of the company gets automatically associated with doing a larger social good and enhances its prestige.
Builds customer loyalty
Customers now are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies and want to feel that they are part of a larger cause. Even if not directly, they feel good to be part of a company with a vision and the willingness to do good. This builds a positive image of the company among customers who will be loyal to the brand.
Attracts the new age millennials
It is believed that most adults consider themselves social activists. Everyone wants to feel that they are doing something challenging that is positive for society. Millennials seek employers who match their ideals and who are involved in social projects.
In fact, a study has pointed out that a whopping 86% of surveyed millennial respondents have said that business success should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance.
Helps retention of talent
Employees feel that they would like to be part of an organisation that is more than just about profits. To help them achieve this goal on an individual level, a lot of companies now provide their employees with the benefit of taking time off to volunteer in different organisations. The idea is to match the personal vision with the social vision of the company.
Enhances employee engagement
CSR requires employee assistance right from designing and developing the CSR program to actually volunteering for a cause. When employees are invited to be part of such important events, they feel valued and appreciated. It helps improve the employer-employee relationship, the team’s dynamics and increases the overall engagement level of the workforce.
In conclusion, it can be said that businesses across India have put their shoulder to the wheel of relief efforts in an inspiring show of solidarity.
For instance, during lockdown some responsible companies came forward to help frontline workers and provided canopy tents for police personnel at various check-posts who had to stand in the scorching heat to monitor movement, provided the under-privileged with food, undertaken feeding for stray animals, contributed to the animal welfare fund, and hosted online events for old age homes to provide mental relief to the senior members of society amongst many other initiatives.
Individuals have been eager to be part of this larger cause, wanting to solve some of society’s greatest challenges. Companies can enable this by helping employees fulfill their individual purpose and aligning their purpose with the larger purpose of the company to ultimately build an equitable society.
Ultimately, a collective social good that is clearly defined and well executed is the overarching goal of organisations that are trying to address the current crisis.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)