Business leaders can boost brand image and serve the public good by practicing corporate social responsibility.

In recent years, public advocates have demanded more than lip service when it comes to protecting the interests of humanity. Resultantly, a growing number of executives recognize the importance of corporate sustainability.

Corporate sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s one of many effective practices for helping your business to grow. By deploying sustainable practices across your enterprise, you can produce tangible benefits for your company, your employees and the community.

CSR Is Just Good Business

Businesses can pursue interests that benefit the public – and the bottom line. An Ernst & Young study reveals that nearly 50% of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs produce a positive return-on-investment.

EY’s research showed that companies enjoy the highest average financial returns from CSR initiatives designed to benefit employees (133%). The research also showed that companies generated the lowest average financial return with environmental initiatives (33%), but the returns still made the efforts worthwhile.

Furthermore, the highest return CSR programs encompassed those where the initiative aligned with the company’s business model and strategy. Results-oriented initiatives also generated the highest returns.

Before you can change the world, however, you must change minds within your organization. You must show organizational leaders that CSR is about more than philanthropy; it’s also a source of revenue.

To generate that revenue, however, you must define a clear plan of action for your CSR initiative. Furthermore, the initiative must align with your organization’s existing strategy. You must also identify and resolve financial and operational barriers that can hinder the success of your social responsibility initiative before your program starts – and as it progresses.

Why You Need to Practice Corporate Social Responsibility

Nearly 60% of consumers consider environmental impact when deciding to purchase a good or service, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. Furthermore, they’re more likely to buy from socially responsible companies.

Based on the Natural Marketing Institute’s research, there is a potential consumer base of nearly 70 million Americans who favor socially responsible organizations. In addition, consumers prefer to buy from enterprises that support local interests, according to the Cause Marketing Forum. Accordingly, “doing the right thing” should serve as the focal point for all your brand awareness initiatives.

Sustainable business practices promote streamlined operations, which reduces costs and improves employee satisfaction. CSR practices can also help you to save on expenses such as utilities.

For instance, you can take steps such as weatherproofing company structures and installing motion detection lights. These investments may prove expensive, but they will result in lower permanent long-term utility costs, paying for themselves over time and slashing utility expenses indefinitely.

Sustainable Success

85% of S&P 500 firms publish an annual corporate responsibility report. Today, CSR is a business best practice. However, you must plan carefully to ensure that your company’s social responsibility initiative succeeds.

It helps to stay focused on a finite purpose. A focused agenda also makes it easier to win the buy-in of executives, who, in turn, will inspire employees to support your company’s CSR cause.

Furthermore, it may prove more prudent to take a proactive stance toward social responsibility, rather than responding to consumer trends. Also, you can increase your chances of success and instantly tap into a fountain of knowledge by partnering with a nonprofit organization that aligns with your CSR focus area.

However you proceed, make sure that you establish finite deadlines. By defining a timetable for CSR-related tasks, you can assess the effectiveness of your program and make course corrections as needed.

Corporate social responsibility is hard work. However, nothing of value comes easily. To execute a CSR program successfully, your organization must commit to setting socially responsible goals and following them through to completion.

In addition, the successful deployment of any sustainability initiative requires buy-in from the top down. Employees will follow the example set by organizational leaders.

If your CSR initiative is successful, your organization will enjoy improved morale and productivity. Furthermore, you will see how doing good can positively benefit your bottom line. Ultimately, corporate social responsibility is a win-win prospect for your company, the community, workers and customers.