Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term that was coined in the late 60’s, but has truly come into prominence over the past decade. CSR is a broad term but generally refers to a company's involvement and activities regarding ethical and social issues affecting the communities they operate within. CSR at its core aims to ensure that companies are held accountable for their social, economic and environmental impact. At first, this began with the philanthropic actions of corporations, but now extends to include changes made to the everyday running of a business that are geared towards a more sustainable future.
When it comes to the franchise industry, lines can become blurred when it comes to exactly who should be making and implementing CSR initiatives. No matter if it comes from the franchisor at a top level, or is built from the ground up by a networks franchisees, any action towards running a more socially responsible business has a positive impact.
Often franchise brands run CSR initiatives on a national scale, and encourage each partner within their network to get on board and represent the cause at a local level. Partnering with a charity leads to increased exposure not only for the franchise brand but for the cause they support, doubling the potential for awareness. A prime example of this is the Poolwerx Swim Safety Initiative to Make A Difference, which aims to prevent drownings by giving every child the chance to learn to swim. If a company doesn’t have a national strategy, many franchisees partake in CSR by investing in their local community. Common activities include sponsoring a local sporting team, donating to a charity or supporting school or club.
You may be wondering why a CSR strategy should be a top priority for a franchise brand, given so many around the world have seen success without one? Well studies have shown that Millennials, more than any generation that came before them, consider real social change hugely important. This generation represents a large portion of the consumer market and actively seek out brands that have meaningful CSR programs. This is further reflected by a survey of online consumers that showed more than half would pay more for products and services if they come from a company that is socially and environmentally responsible.
When creating and implementing a CSR strategy, the first and foremost goal should be to make a positive contribution to society. But this doesn’t mean that this is where the benefits of being a responsible company stop. A well thought-out CSR plan should make sure that customers feel a sense of good for their purchase, knowing they’re helping contribute to a larger cause. Because of societies drive and desire to do and feel good, this can ultimately lead to a healthier bottom line.
For franchise brands in particular, CSR has come to play a crucial role in franchisee recruitment and retention. As more and more Millennials start to invest in the franchise industry, the importance they place upon ethical and sustainable business will become a key factor in the recruitment drive. A company's corporate behavior gives potential franchisees valuable insight into values and principles that brand practices, and potential recruits are looking to align themselves with like-minded brands.
CSR plays an important role in ensuring that the world's commercial practices remain ethical and sustainable. Many brands take pride in their CSR initiatives and strive to give more and more back to the community and their businesses grow and succeed. However, whether you are a national franchise network or a single franchisee, CSR should be a top priority for more reason than one!