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  • January-28-2019

Linking Corporate Social Responsibility to Corporate Reputation

Oceanic Pharmachem Private Limited (OPPL) believes that Corporate Social Responsibility is, in actuality an investment in Market Reputation.

Successful companies understand that corporate reputation is a business asset that requires proactive management. The engagement of a company with the world as a socially responsible entity is at the heart of reputational equity and risk.

Simply put, the world and the marketplace have moved beyond evaluating companies based solely on the quality of their products or services. Equally important to protecting and growing reputation are the relationships a company has with the environment, communities and its employees.

A strong corporate reputation clears the way for positive brand value. A compelling brand or a pitch-perfect value proposition will stand diluted in scenarios of reputational frictions about the company.

CSR activities protect and grow corporate reputation, which creates a supportive backdrop for brand strategies to succeed. CSR activities also help the company continue to engage with communities and stakeholders that can provide valuable feedback for their products and services, strengthening their business. Investment in initiatives that bolster reputation unlocks business value and shared value.

Successfully implemented CSR programs go beyond the mandatory good, creating a two-fold positive impact on employees. First, for employees themselves, these activities are often a critical piece of how they connect with the company. It makes them fulfilled, gives them a chance to serve with colleagues in a new way and build their skills, and plays an important role as they go out in the world as brand ambassadors in their daily lives.

Second, the current young talent feels it is a priority that the company they work for is socially responsible. Even when compared to things such as career advancement, elements of corporate character are a compelling part of a company’s reputation that can influence decisions of job-seekers. CSR activities can help pave the way to attracting and retaining high-potential hires.

CSR measurement is evolving and a lack of it renders the CSR programs to line-item expenses instead of initiatives that drive business value for the corporation. By measuring success, CSR activities protect the reputation and shape the business landscape in a supportive way.

Assessments can be focussed in three broad areas:

1. Actual performance: To check the effectiveness of efforts to get the desired positive change. Companies must measure and evaluate their positive impacts, alongside their community and non-profit partners, so they can share this information both internally and externally.
2. Top-level understanding: This applies to initiatives that are well-resourced and time-bound. The efforts should be shared to stakeholders to make them aware with the desired understanding of the issue. Over time, such insights serve to inform future efforts to hone CSR practices.
3. Overall impact: Social responsibility efforts have large impact on corporate reputation and risk mitigation, including the company’s overall business environment. CSR is a critical business case for companies to operationalize to an extent which builds reputational equity and mitigates reputational risk.

Companies have to differentiate themselves in communicating their CSR initiatives and results for diverse stakeholders based on their specific priorities. So, a CSR communication strategy has to be different for consumers, policy influencers, NGOs, or investors.

Companies also have to engage in activities that link to their own core competencies, moving from old-school philanthropy to skills-based contributions. This allows  highlighting a company’s CSR portfolio and also the expertise it brings to the marketplace.

There is a major need to communicate all socially and environmentally responsible activities, in an authentic way, without being opportunistic or boastful. People make an effort to learn proactively about the way a company engages with the world before they decide to support it - in the form of buying the company’s product, working for the company, or welcoming the company’s expansion in their local community.

Today, CSR has evolved from a definition of social responsibility dominated by environmental issues toward a broader view of corporate citizenship. Going forward, a bigger definition will include economic impacts, transparency, employee well-being, as proof points for being a responsible company.

Companies have to steadily weave and integrate CSR into their organizational structures, thereby providing a framework for sustainability, responsibility and global citizenship.

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