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Michael Zetser: How Can CSR Help Companies Achieve a Competitive Advantage?

Michael Zetser is a former fintech CEO. This article will look at the importance of companies implementing stringent corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies – and how they can create a significant competitive advantage over less ethical market rivals by becoming more socially and environmentally aware.

Today, many organizations are looking beyond profit in defining why they exist, re-evaluating everything from employee and community engagement to product delivery and everything in between.

The expectation that businesses should go beyond maximizing profits is becoming increasingly common in modern societies all over the world today. According to the results of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, 68% of consumers believe they have the power to force companies to change, with 86% of respondents reporting that they expect CEOs to speak out on societal issues.

Whether it is protecting consumer privacy, striving for net-zero emissions, or creating a more equitable world, many organizations are revisiting the issue of why they exist, exploring the impact they make beyond pure profit. For forward-thinking businesses today, having a purpose and operating ethically drives much of their business operations. This elevated prioritization is forcing modern businesses to rethink various aspects of their daily operations, from brand messaging and product delivery to community engagement strategies. After all, striking the right note and resonating with consumers is no easy task.

Corporate social responsibility is one of the main emerging marketing trends. Companies wield a huge amount of power, creating and destroying jobs; making or breaking economies; and ultimately impacting the lives of people all over the world today. With such vast influence comes the need for companies to take their corporate social responsibility very seriously, operating in an ethical and morally sound way.

For companies that operate robust corporate social responsibility policies, not just talking the talk but following up with action, the results can be astonishing in terms of enhancing brand and improving reputation, attracting customers, investors, and top talent.

Corporate social responsibility marketing is gaining traction as an efficient marketing tool. As consumers become increasingly aware of the impact their buying decisions have on environmental and social issues, they are increasingly seeking out brands that align with their ethical values.

Corporate social responsibility marketing takes many forms, from reducing a corporation’s environmental footprint to supporting charitable causes. What all CSR initiatives share in common is the objective of giving back to communities and achieving a positive impact on society.

In an era of increased digitization, the world has become more connected. From a business owner’s perspective, this means that their enterprise is coming under more scrutiny, not just from customers but also from wider society. By formulating and following up on corporate social responsibility policies, companies can address these concerns, demonstrating to their customers, employees, investors, local communities, and the world at large that they are committed to making a positive impact.

In conclusion, corporate social responsibility helps to build trust and credibility with customers. When customers see that a business is taking action to address environmental and social issues, they are more likely to want to be connected with that brand and feel a positive association with it. Put simply, social value is good for business, with 73% of investors reporting that efforts to improve society and the environment play into their investment decision-making and 25% of consumers adopting a “zero tolerance” policy towards businesses that embrace questionable practices on an ethical front, according to data from Impact Reporting.

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