Op-Ed: Beyond the photo-op, corporate social responsibility done right
The effective communication of corporate social responsibility initiatives contributes, not only to enhancing a company’s image and/or the perception of a brand, but also to developing a better relationship with its internal public (employees, suppliers, contractors) and external public (clients, general public).
But what happens when that corporate social responsibility is a hollow strategy or a desperate effort to improve its reputation? If the mission, vision and values of that company are not aligned with the causes that it supports or the treatment it grants to its employees, it may instead become a double-edged sword.
The legitimate commitment to do good must always go hand-in-hand with the internal business culture of a business. Otherwise, altruism becomes another business practice or corporate hypocrisy to encourage profit or even advantage over another brand.
Nobel laureate Milton Friedman called in 1970 the social responsibility programs “hypocritical showcase” in an article he wrote for The New York Times magazine entitled “Corporate social responsibility to increase their profits.” There are occasions where corporate philanthropy is only a minimum effort when compared to the profits of a company.
The conceptualization of what is corporate social responsibility starts from the postulate that companies are social entities.
Therefore, they must be an active part in the search for solutions to the problems that afflict society. They must take their obligation with society seriously.
Today, the public prefers to sponsor organizations that demonstrate that they care or support causes for the benefit of society. The loss of confidence in the government as a social actor places greater weight on companies and organizations to serve as the responsible social entity.
Such is the case after the earthquake last January when the first aid to arrive was from companies and citizens.
It is important that when a business or organization contributes or adopts a cause it is a legitimate and genuine effort where there is participation of employees and the public. This should not be done either in order to obtain tax, tax or recognition advantages of professional groups.
Corporate social responsibility should encourage the discussion of important issues and the interaction of different sectors of society in the search for solutions. Companies must use their strengths to solve problems that result in the common good.
This is how we build a better Puerto Rico.