You may well be noticing the shift in consumer priorities; we are all becoming much more concerned about the planet, the provenance of food and goods in general, and whether they came from an ethical source. We are looking towards both large and small companies more than ever before to act in a decent and sustainable manner, being happy to reject irresponsible brands that go against our principles.
Shared values are what attracts us and keeps us linked to our own social groups and personal friends, and it is no different when it comes to the companies we choose to give our business to. Customer expectations that brands align with their own personal values, standing for something more meaningful than just the products they sell, should not be under-estimated. Failure to consider this as part of your communications strategy could well impact on the bottom line.
With businesses choosing to associate themselves with suppliers who are compliant with their own operations drives the need for organisations to evaluate and articulate their CSR policies. Not having a supply chain that is transparent and able to demonstrate ethical and social compliance is a top concern, and one that can be a barrier to trade in many sectors. It is often a condition to comply with a certain set of requirements to be considered as a viable supplier, so make it easy for potential customers to understand your company’s stance on important factors of relevance, so that they know what you believe in, and also how your business operates. Then show how you adhere to those claims by your actions.
I can hear you thinking: “My company isn’t big enough to have to consider having any policies”. Every business, at every level can and should have some form of social compliance policy regardless of whether it is a legal requirement. It helps customers decide to do business with you, helps employees choose to work for you and helps the local community to understand how you are a good neighbour.
To create that strong bond between your business and your stakeholders and wider community, a well communicated CSR policy will serve you well, helping to manage your brand reputation long-term.
In a study conducted by Accenture, it found that 66% of people are attracted to brands who deliver on their promises and who have a great culture. More than half of customers in the UK ‘want companies to take a stand on issues they care about, such as sustainability and fair employment’. Companies who don’t align themselves with those expectations will ultimately pay the price.
Organisations can do well by doing good, putting people before profits is something we will be seeing more of this decade. Brands who demonstrate authenticity and humility, openly admitting to their faults, being open and transparent and showing their full commitment to their CSR will be the most effective. People are much more forgiving of a company when an apology is given along with how the error will be fixed. Simply ignoring an issue is no longer a viable option if you want to retain loyal customers and make employees feel good about working at your company.
We will see the continual rise of the purpose-led brands. Every business needs a plan. The purpose of your company, what it believes in and its mission and values should be at the core of the strategic plan; agreed, defined and then communicated effectively for anyone and everyone who encounters your brand to know. It’s well worth investing the time to create opportunities to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
How do you plan to show you are socially accountable in 2020?