Social responsibility is the notion that companies, organizations and individuals have a duty to act in a way that benefits the greater good.
Therefore, we have both the power and the responsibility to use our consumer dollars in a way the benefits the greater good, or at the very least, does not harm it. Social responsibility is becoming more and more important to consumers. In fact, a recent study from Cone Communications found that nine out of ten of global consumers expect companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.
Does this make you curious about what your favorite brands or companies are doing to pay it forward? Below are the links to social responsibility reports for several high profile companies so you can see for yourself.
Why Corporate Social Responsibility Matters to Consumers
Every day millions of dollars are spent around the country at retailers and on brands that have the opportunity to give back, whether it be to the environment, to the community, or in some other thoughtful way. More and more often, consumers are choosing to put their dollars behind brands that care about their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the greater community.
It’s also worth noting that today’s savvy consumers are getting wise to CSR (corporate social responsibility) propaganda tactics too, recognizing efforts that are authentic versus those that are being done to mask other, perhaps not so responsible, practices. The Cone Communications study showed that nine out of ten consumers would boycott a company if they learned of irresponsible or deceptive business practices. (For me personally, it’s hard to take seriously a company who talks about creating a healthy future while dousing their products with pesticides, or one that pretends to care about the environment while wrapping each of their products in an unnecessary amount of plastic.)
Social responsibility from a consumer perspective is about supporting the brands whose values are in line with your own. Are they ethical? Do they care about the environment? Do they use fair labor practices? Do they support charitable organizations?
For instance, you may choose to not purchase brands that make products made with toxins. This may include avoiding chemicals, parabens, phthalates, flame retardants, hormones, or sugar substitutes. It may include opting for brands that are organic or made using recycled materials. Or you may make your purchasing decision based on how the product is produced. Is it made in the U.S.A.? Does the company employ environmentally-friendly tactics to reduce their carbon footprint? Is it handmade? Is it fair trade? Is it farmed with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) or genetically edited organisms (GEO’s)?
Your purchasing decisions may even be influenced by what the brand or retailer is doing in their local communities, or around the world to make a difference. Do they make significant donations to charity? Do they participate in local charitable events? Do they encourage employees to pay it forward in some way?
How to Find the Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts from Your Favorite Brands
How do you know whether the brands you buy are being socially responsible? Be on the lookout for it. Sometimes right there at the bottom of their website will be a link for “social responsibility.” Simply click on that to read more and decide if that brand is doing enough to be worthy of your dollars. If you can’t find any information on a company’s corporate social responsibility, you might just want to think twice about that company’s intentions.
I encourage you to learn more, and let’s use our wallets wisely. Together, we can make changes happen.
Here are some of the social responsibility pages and reports from some of the nation’s biggest brands. If you don’t like what you are seeing, perhaps there are more proactive competitors you can purchase from instead, or make it known to your favorite brands that you expect better. Though I do hope you continue to look further, this is a good place to start:
Ann Taylor Inc.
Bank of America
Barnes & Noble Inc.
Caesar’s Entertainment Group
Campbell’s Soup Company
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Radisson)
Chico’s FAS, Inc.
The Coca Cola Company
Foot Locker, Inc.
The Hershey Company
Johnson & Johnson
The North Face
Office Depot / Office Max
Procter & Gamble
The Honest Company
The TJX Companies Inc.
Tom’s of Maine
The Walt Disney Company
Whole Foods Market
When consumers talk with their wallets, brands will listen. What are your consumer dollars saying?
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