Definition: Corporate Social Responsibility (also known as CSR, corporate conscience, and corporate citizenship) is the integration of socially beneficial programs and practices into a corporation's business model and culture. CSR aims to increase long-term profits for online and offline businesses by enabling them to become more efficient and attract positive attention for their efforts.

What Benefits Does CSR Offer to Businesses?

Both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses stand to benefit from the implementation of CSR strategies. Some activities that fall under the umbrella of CSR, with their corresponding benefits, include:

  • Prevent financial ramifications: Compliance with the spirit and letter of the law — both nationally and internationally — through self-regulatory processes will prevent fines, put your business "low on regulators' radar screens," and lower legal expenses.
  • Increase employee loyalty: Treating your employees fairly and generously is a part of corporate social responsibility. By providing good jobs and encouraging high professional and moral standards, you increase employee loyalty, and by procuring only those overseas products produced at factories where workers were treated ethically, you gain support among "Fair Trade" advocates.
  • Maintain a positive reputation: Demonstrated consciousness in a variety of areas can garner publicity and give a business tangible proof of their conduct, which can be proudly displayed on a company website. These include:
    • Environmental consciousness: Reducing waste, recycling, minimizing carbon footprint, and other best practices can . Using or producing only sustainable products, lowering energy usage, and supporting environmental causes will boost a business's "green reputation" among environmentally concerned clients.
    • Social Concern: Donating to humanitarian causes that fight persistent poverty, help the victims of epidemics like AIDS or Ebola, or assist those displaced by hurricanes or earthquakes shows concern for issues that consumers are more and more aware of in our modern, interconnected world.
    • Local Community: Involvement in local community projects, either through financial donations, employee participation, connecting your customers with project leaders, or promotion of the project through advertising and fundraising enhances your CSR credentials with clients in the given location.

How can online businesses use their website to engage customers in CSR?

Online businesses can utilize and incorporate the above methods, but there are additional digital opportunities to give back:

  1. Helping the environment through "website sustainability," meaning lowering the carbon footprint of webpages by removing screen clutter, replacing video clips with slide shows and improving ease of navigation.
  2. Allowing clients to choose a charity that receives a portion of profits. Many customers appreciate their input being taken into account and are more likely to return when they feel personally connected to the beneficiary of a charitable campaign.
  3. Promoting additional social/humanitarian causes with display ads on the website, blog content, and social media posts.

Learn more about how corporate social responsibility can directly increase revenue at the BigCommerce Blog: Double Your Bottom Line: How Giving Back Boosts Business


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