By Simon Wadsworth, CEO of Igniyte, online reputation specialists
Today’s consumer-driven world means the reputation of businesses, brands and financial institutions is more important than ever. People want to do business with companies they believe in. And they’re on the lookout for meaningless corporate spiel that says much and delivers little.
By actively communicating your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies, companies operating with the Finance sector build and maintain trust with customers, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders. In other words, the way financial institutions implement CSR strategies directly impacts their reputation.
Why is CSR communication so important for your corporate reputation
Maximising your CSR strategy for reputation management purposes will pay dividends. CSR is good for business and allows financial institutions to demonstrate their benefit to the wider community. A strong, workable, demonstrable CSR strategy is a vital part of a company’s reputation. This is true in any sector, but particularly within Finance as trust is often low.
As well as having a CSR strategy, implementing it and measuring its success, effective communication is vital. Not only will it help to build and enhance your corporate online reputation and your customer-base, but it will also serve as a protective barrier in case of any reputational damage.
Millennials and Generation Z are placing more focus on social responsibility than previous generations. They care about the companies they choose to give their money to, and they are looking for businesses with strong CSR accountability. This progressive shift towards companies that take responsibility for their impact on the environment, sustainability and other social issues will only continue. It’s apparent that COVID-19 has increased consumer interest in CSR and what companies actually do.
The four areas of CSR to include in your comms strategy
Broadly, CSR comprises four areas:
- Philanthropy – strategic monetary gifts aimed at solving systemic long-term problems.
- Workforce – how employees are treated, how diverse your workplace is and how satisfied your workforce.
- Environmental conservation – does your company exceed the basic Government requirements and can you show it? The legal minimum isn’t enough.
- Volunteering – donating effort, talent and time to make an instant difference.
CSR vastly improves corporate reputation, which increases the company’s overall value. Beyond its financial benefits, an open and well communicated CSR strategy focuses the company’s overall efforts on what’s best for the customers, the wider community and the world. It’s powerful when done well.
For CSR to be done well, above all it has to be genuine. Paying lip service to buzzwords and sending out self-congratulatory press releases is not how an effecting CSR comms plan is laid out. It’s a case of show and tell.
Communicating the following CSR practices will go a long way to boosting your online and offline reputation with consumers and other stakeholders:
- Helping people who need it in the community, whether it’s through volunteering, financial contributions or a COVID-related scheme.
- Actively working to mitigate the impact of climate change, through lowering emissions, finding new ways to ensure that the company is lowering its carbon footprint and supporting charities and movements that are making a difference.
- Embracing Fair Trade through every possible way.
- Funding and supporting vaccine research, distribution and COVID-19 aid.
- Engaging in substantial charitable giving.
- Volunteering in the community.
Do your affiliates match up?