Implementing CSR strategies at an organisational level to enhance not only one’s company but also its own supply chains’ performance is becoming the favoured way to accelerate strong relationships among stakeholders, reduce risks and boost brand value and reputation. The following short article will focus on the latter and illustrate potential policies and actions that may increase a company’s brand value and reputation.
Integrating CSR into your HR policies, procurement policies or contractual clauses increases a company’s standards and values and in turn strengthens brand identity, attracts customers and differentiates the brand from other competitors.
A report produced by Business in the Community and the Doughty Centre for Corporate
Responsibility identifies companies that implement ecological practices, and shows that enhanced corporate values and standards and customer care increases the ability of companies’ brands to attract consumers, employees and investors. They also state that many consumers surveyed « claim to be influenced in their purchasing decisions by the CSR reputation of firms ».
An organisation’s image is ever changing as economic, social and environmental standards increase and market expectations rise. The financial bottom line is no longer sufficient to attract stakeholders, investors or enhance a company’s reputation. Employees’ needs, local/regional communities and protecting the environment are now much higher on the agenda. In order to meet these expectations and gain a competitive edge over other companies, a solid commitment towards sustainability must be deployed so that stakeholders can track the progress being made. Demonstrating their commitments will therefore enhance responsible stakeholder management and brand performance and in turn encourage companies to increase their sustainable practices even further.
Another reason to build one’s company image and reputation is for tender applications. It is increasingly common for companies’ to have to provide a sustainability performance evaluation for tenders. It is an optimal way to demonstrate a company’s strengths and progress in terms of sustainable policies and actions implemented. Thus, making one stand out from other competitors that also apply to tenders. Such evaluations will generate CSR reports that lay out what is in place within your organisation so that you can communicate your performance to the public or use it for tenders. Whether in the public or private sector, CSR commitments or evaluations are increasingly requested for tenders to verify a contractor’s activities and suitability.
There are multiple ways to enhance your brand and reputation. Please find listed a series of potential actions to take (dependant on sectors):
- Design products for maximum recyclability and « circularity »
- Design for lower energy and material use in the life cycle
- Design for positive influence on consumers’ health
- Source from local or micro suppliers
- Source from certified ethical suppliers in conflict zones
- Consider sustainability criteria in facility’s location decision
- Use alternative fuels
- Follow international standards (ISOs)
- Implement fair-wage policy
- Invest/Partner with local community projects
A report published by the World Economic Forum and Accenture identified 31 practices that empower responsible value chains and local sourcing is among them. More so today than in the past decades, local sourcing strategies are implemented not only to cut costs but to enhance branding. For local sourcing, three main approaches emerge for leveraging small local holders; Operational Efficiency, Licence to Operate and Local Market Penetration.
Operational Efficiency is mainly focused on forming connections with smallholders to reduce supply chain disruptions, improve quality, reduce production losses and create durable relationships with local and regional communities. Regarding Licence to Operate, the report implies that by being involved in sustainability, there is potential to gain credibility with local communities, NGOs, media and governments. In turn, avoiding bureaucratic difficulties and enhancing local opportunities, better pricing and government subsidies. Local Market Penetration involves the companies that market their products locally. Not only do they create efficient operations by sourcing locally but they use their brand reputation and affinity with local markets to provide local products for local tastes and needs. By gaining access to these additional local markets they enjoy not only increased profits but also the reduced taxes that come with fewer international imports.
Implementing CSR strategies or, for example, the possible 31 practices identified by the report will bring many benefits to a company’s brand value but also to many other areas of business. For instance, a 5% to 20% increase in revenue for responsible products, a 9% to 16% reduction in supply chain cost, a 13% to 22% reduction in greenhouse gases and an increase in brand value from 15% to 30%.
-World Economic Forum and Accenture, (2015). Beyond Supply Chains – Empowering Responsible Value Chains. World Economic Forum, Cologny/Geneva. Available online.
-Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Business in the Community, (2011). The business case for being a responsible business. Cranfield’s Doughty Centre, Swindon. Available online.
– Virdi, I., (2012). Corporate Social Responsibility Practices – An Operations and Supply Chain Perspective. Australasian Supply Chain Institute. Available online.