Companies have a social responsibility. We have already explained this in our introductory article on the subject of corporate social responsibility. The extent to which companies can and want to live up to this responsibility varies from company to company. Here we show positive and negative examples of CSR measures that are intended to inspire or enlighten.
What makes a good CSR campaign?
In order to evaluate which corporate social responsibility activities have a positive impact and which do not, we must first define good CSR measures. To live up to their responsibility, companies have to be honest. This means that the drive for a CSR campaign must come from within and not be used primarily as a marketing tool.
Of course, CSR measures can have a positive marketing effect and serve the external perception of the company. However, the reason for CSR measures should not only be an advertising effect.
Greenwashing describes CSR activities in the area of environmental protection that are developed for marketing reasons - this is not something that people should associate with your company.
Only become active in CSR if you want to give something back to society together with your employees. Find topics that genuinely affect you.
Involve your employees, they can decide on the campaign and actively participate in it. Instead of making a donation to the homeless charity, you and your team can get involved on the ground and help serve food or distribute warm clothing. The more you involve your employees, the better your relationship and company retention will be.
Use CSR not as a marketing tool, but as a way to give back.
Stand up for what is important to you and your employees.
Involve your employees and get personally involved.
If you take these tips into account, you are already doing a lot right.
CSR: Positive examples
Now that we have defined what makes a good CSR campaign, we can evaluate CSR activities of other companies and name positive examples.
Clean water for all - Wilo SE
As one of the world's leading manufacturers of pumps, Wilo SE is very interested in sustainable corporate action. The company aims to have climate-neutral production by 2025. This also includes the effort to recycle defective pumps and return them to the market in order to conserve resources - raw materials as well as energy.
The motto above it all is: clean water for everyone. And this is not only a nice thought, but also very credible for a pump manufacturer, which is also evident here: Wilo SE supports the Baobab Children Foundation in Ghana, which cares for children and young people locally. Together, they are developing solar-powered water pumps and installing them to ensure a reliable supply of drinking water in places that would otherwise lack water and economic strength. Here, Wilo SE impressively and credibly reflects on its corporate values.
Fair working conditions along the supply chain - Dibella GmbH
Dibella GmbH is a textile manufacturer in the B2B sector. They equip hotels, gastronomy and healthcare with sustainable contract textiles. They source their own fabrics from India, Pakistan and China, which results in a challenging supply chain. The company helps its suppliers with transparency, long-term relationships and active local support. Dibella also has its own office in India.
Together with local smallholders, Dibella has developed and introduced standards for fair and ecologically sustainable cultivation and manufacturing methods. With a Code of Conduct, the local companies were obliged to meet socio-ecological requirements in order to be able to offer their employees safe and fair working conditions and environmental protection at the same time. In return, the suppliers received commitments for fixed purchase quantities and stable prices. Today, Dibella GmbH is regarded as a pioneer for cooperation and commitment in the supply chain.
Home comfort for all - IKEA.
"Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people." That's what IKEA says about itself. First and foremost, the company achieves this through practical and comfortable furniture or furnishings. But: people with physical limitations do not have it easy in everyday life. Simple tasks in their own homes can become a real challenge.
In Israel, one in ten people is affected by physical limitations. That's why IKEA's "ThisAbles" campaign has developed new products to complement their existing furniture and make it more accessible - enlargements for lamp power buttons, handles for curtains, or elevations for sofas to make it easier to stand up. IKEA has not only relaunched all these products in its stores, but has also made them available for download on the Internet so that people all over the world can make them themselves using 3D printers.
In this way, IKEA is actually improving everyday life for everyone, underscoring its own vision and involving employees in the research and product development process along with those who are themselves affected by the limitations.
Helping people to help themselves - Engfer Consulting and the Ofenmacher e.V.
"Premium personnel consulting needs more humanity", that's what Engfer Consulting GbR says about the industry and positions itself as a personnel consulting firm that always focuses on people themselves. Far beyond its own employees, clients and applicants, the focus has always been on less privileged people from developing countries. Together with the Stove Makers Association, the company uses its media presence, in addition to its own donations, to make the mission of the Stove Makers heard.
In most rural households in developing countries today, an open fire is used in the living room for cooking. This practice poses risks, especially to young children who crawl or fall into the fire and suffer severe burns, but equally to adults who inhale such fumes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 4.3 million people die each year from the effects of cooking fumes.
The aim is to help people in developing countries to help themselves, and we are doing this by providing stoves with built-in flues for safe smoke evacuation.
Together we are committed to improving living conditions and reducing CO2 in as many rural households as possible, such as in Nepal, Kenya or Ethiopia.
Negative CSR greenwashing example: Apple
Last year, technology manufacturer Apple showed an example of how corporate social responsibility does not work. In 2020, at the launch of the iPhone 12, Apple announced that the new device would be delivered without a charger - an essential component without which an iPhone cannot be used.
Apple sold this as a CSR measure: weight, packaging material and CO2 emissions during production and transport would be reduced - and that is of course true. But it is obvious that the intention behind this is to generate more sales. Despite the lack of a charger, the product has not become cheaper. It is legitimate to do without the charger, but this should not be sold as a CSR measure.
If you pursue an honest and sincere interest in giving something back to society, you are already on the right track. If employees are involved and the company's vision is pursued, the CSR measure will have a positive impact on the company. However, those who engage in greenwashing or use CSR primarily as a marketing tool will fail to achieve their goals.