New Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility

James D. Ludema & Amber A. Johnson Article, CSR, Culture, Ethics, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Bruce, pictured above, is part of a training and work program for people with development disabilities. (Photo courtesy of Aspire CoffeeWorks.)

If you grew up in a small town, then Friday nights in the fall probably meant high school football. Maybe you recall that the game’s program was printed with logos of all the local businesses who were “boosters” of the marching band and the football team. Having your logo there was less about attracting business, and more about assuring the customers you already had that you were invested in their community.

For the Chicago White Sox, fan loyalty grows even deeper through volunteer projects. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.)

That “booster” model of corporate community engagement has a purpose, but it also shows limits. Newer models of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have emerged, and they’re about more than writing a check or putting a logo on the back of a Little League t-shirt. New CSR is solid business strategy.

Over the last two months, we’ve featured some incredible stories of CSR in our regular column. These stories, and those we encounter as we meet with executives around the world, remind us of the compelling power of the new CSR. In short, companies are routinely finding ways to use social engagement and responsibility to:

  • Drive innovation – including new products and services;
  • Reach new markets – especially in “base of the pyramid” communities;
  • Strengthen ties with suppliers, business partners, and community partners;
  • Develop customer loyalty, turning customers into fans;
  • Teach employees about the broader business and strengthen engagement;
  • Build a pipeline to future employees;
  • Earn a positive reputation, which often comes with free publicity;
  • All while tackling intractable problems.

In our Forbes column, we covered amazing stories from Campbell’s Soup, the Chicago White Sox, and Aspire CoffeeWorks. Find links to these articles below – then share your own CSR suggestion in the comments section, or on Twitter (@ValuesDriven). We look forward to hearing from you.

Campbell's Soup CSR

At Campbell’s Soup, a peach salsa has proved a win-win-win for the community, the environment, and the company. (Photo courtesy of Campbell’s Soup.)

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