Changes taking place in the business world since the 1960s have seen companies become more responsible.
This broad responsibility covers many spectrums of life, including ethics and economics.
Over the past 60 years, the growth in business awareness of its impact on communities has led to the emergence of the concept of corporate social responsibility or CSR.
Stay with us as we explore in more depth the world of CSR and how CSR applies to franchising.
What is CSR and what is its main purpose?
For those of you new to CSR’s meaning and are curious about the question: what is corporate social responsibility, it’s important to understand that CSR is not only a concept but a series of actions taken by a business that aims to foster positive relationships with clients, communities, employees and stakeholders in a way that is more sustainable, conscious of impact, ethical and philanthropic in some ways.
Businesses are realising the importance their actions are having on a wider scale, and as such, they are aiming to be more responsible towards each stakeholder they impact as a way of creating ethical community partnerships.
When it comes to what is CSR, it is worth noting that it is as much about reducing one’s environmental footprint as it is about treating employees fairly or choosing third-party suppliers who carry out business ethically. As such, businesses across the world are realising that they too have a wider community responsibility in addition to being solely driven by the profit motive.
What makes a company socially responsible?
If CSR is about actions that are socially responsible, what should a company do to achieve this status?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that CSR is an ongoing process that is always in motion and should continuously improve.
Secondly, after realising the ongoing nature of CSR, businesses need to introduce processes to ensure their responsibility to their wider community based on the four CSR types.
We cover these in more detail below.
What are the 4 types of CSR?
There are four types of CSR, which are:
- Environmental responsibility: Environmental responsibility aims to reduce a business’ carbon footprint as a way of being more environmentally aware of the finite resources that the Earth has, ensuring greater sustainability for future generations.
- Ethical responsibility: Examples of ethical responsibility include aspects such as hiring equitably and introducing diversity within an organisation. This means hiring people of different ages, genders, religious backgrounds, cultural groups, etc.
- Philanthropic responsibility: The category of philanthropic responsibility focuses on philanthropic actions. These may include supporting a local sport team or donating to charity.
- Economic responsibility: An example of economic responsibility relates to paying close attention to one’s supply chains and ensuring that every third-party vendor involved in the process also acts ethically and responsibly, while providing fairly paid employment to workers at the same time, among others.
What are the principles of CSR?
Having covered the four types of CSR, it becomes clear that there are many actions businesses can take to ensure they are socially committed and responsible.
Some actions and focus areas that businesses can focus on include respect for:
- The environment and sustainability
- Human rights
- Fair labour practices and fair compensation
- The rule of law
- International norms of behaviour
- Talent and workforce
- Fair competition
- And more.
What are the pros and cons of CSR?
When the question why is corporate social responsibility important arises, it’s essential to look at what are the benefits of CSR and how CSR adds value to a company.
Here, we’ll focus on the benefits of corporate social responsibility as well as some potential disadvantages that may arise.
- CSR can promote business differentiation, both internally and externally
- It helps attract top talent and boosts staff retention
- It has brand awareness and reputational gains
- It helps foster a greater sense of community
- CSR is a strong way of building a solid company identity and culture
- CSR can attract new business partners, such as in franchise networks
- It has wider-reaching positive community, economic and environmental implication
- CSR efforts are not without costs and businesses may not always be able to recoup their investment
- It can take away from a company’s core business activities by diverting resources away from the business’ primary goals
- It can lead to greenwashing, with means inauthentic CSR efforts that are purely used as a marketing and PR tool
- Some companies may not carry out their CSR efforts with genuine intentions and do so purely to improve their image
- Certain conflicts may arise between business interests and social responsibility
- It can be used to deliberately manipulate public opinion
With these pros and cons in mind, it becomes clear why corporate social responsibility is important.
In fact, the importance of corporate social responsibility can not only have positive brand implications but also foster strong customer relationships, loyalty and trust, in addition to helping improve the business’ bottom line.
What are some CSR activities?
There are numerous CSR activities that businesses can become engaged with. Examples include:
- Donations to charities
- Sponsoring local teams or community groups
- Making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint
- Improving relationships with suppliers in their logistics pipelines
- Hiring with equity and diversity in mind
- Ensuring fair labour practices and wages
- And more
What is corporate social responsibility in franchising?
As promised, we now turn to what corporate social responsibility is in franchising. Firstly, though, we should explain the concept of franchising in a bit more detail.
Franchising is a specific business model that relies on its franchisee partners to carry out the business mission and objectives of the parent brand by following a type of cookie-cutter model that is geared towards success.
Although this may sound ultra-simplified, a franchisor grants its network of franchisees the rights to use its logos and branding as well as intellectual property and proprietary processes. These are used to carry out business according to the franchisor’s specific guidelines while benefiting from a massive support system, established brand and proven business model.
When it comes to CSR in franchising, it serves two primary roles. On the one hand, franchises can carry out CSR efforts as a way of attracting new franchisees whose values align with those of the franchise brand.
This means more aligned partnerships and greater value added. On the other hand, franchisors who incorporate CSR efforts at headquarter levels can attract more customers to the wider brand (in other words, its network of franchisees).
This is because customers who trust the franchise based on its CSR efforts are more likely to become the franchise’s loyal clientele.
Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are at the heart of many businesses across the UK and the world.
With a greater emphasis and awareness of a business’ wider community and environmental impact, it is necessary for business entities to act in an ethical manner.
This should signal their mindfulness of their impact on the broader economy, the labour force, the environment and communities and stakeholders.
With franchising’s business model, implementing CSR efforts is a wonderful way to attract new franchisees to the franchise network as it is a great way to attract a loyal clientele.
If you’d like to find out more about what we at Belvoir are doing in terms of CSR efforts and initiatives as part of our estate agent’s franchise or you’d like to find out more about how to become a property franchisee, feel free to get in touch!