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Investing in Our Future: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Investing in Your Brand — What You Need to Know

What draws you to a brand? Is it their logo, their name or their values?

For most, it’s brand awareness fueled by a personal connection to the brand and company. Apple, Lego and the Walt Disney Company are examples of companies who exemplify this personal connection. What each also has in common is a sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at their core.  A CSR program touches everything from products to business decisions, serving as the glue, solidifying customer loyalty.  If you are thinking about launching your own CSR campaign or trying to reinvigorate the connection your business has with its customers, here are the reasons why 64 percent of CEOs are increasing their investments in corporate social responsibility this year.

Community Impact and Engagement: A CSR program can mean many things–supporting causes, exerting positive societal influence, and displaying environmental responsibility to name a few.  Salesforce and Highwire client InsideSales.com for example have a 1-1-1 model, where each company dedicates one percent of their product, revenue and employees’ time to impact lives for good. Whether by volunteering with local nonprofits (think about the causes that matter to your employees) or funding programs such as education and technology innovation, these investments make a large impact on both the local community and employees, fueling brand perceptions and recruiting efforts. InsideSales.com and its Do Good Foundation was recently recognized by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce for not only succeeding in its industry but also making an impact in the local community, giving back to its roots and having a positive effect in the region.

Build Trust – Invest in Your Company’s Future: CSR builds trust with employees and customers. It also creates more engaged employees and employees that are 38 percent more loyal.  When thinking about how to inspire your employees and build trust think about the initiatives that you can take on that map back to who you are as a business. How does your founding story inspire who you want to become and how you want to be perceived? Answering these questions will help your business build trust organically and authentically.

One great example is Highwire client Twilio. From the beginning, Twilio’s origins centered around nine core values that touched every part of the business from building products to running the business. As a company built by developers, Twilio likes to celebrates the doers – those people and companies within their community that are using technology in awesome ways. So in 2013, Twilio launched its nonprofit arm Twilio.org to give nonprofits access to the same technologies Fortune 500s are using. The result is a growing number of nonprofits that use Twilio’s cloud communications to solve some of the world’s problems. Examples include the Polaris Project rescuing victims of human trafficking, Doctors Without Borders building better care programs for tuberculosis patients and even reducing disaster response times by 50 percent for the American Red Cross. For Twilio, staying true to its roots and its core value helped it to launch an initiative that will not only help grow its business but also create a company that employees can feel proud to work for.

Value Enhancing: Consumers are demanding more from brands, increasingly rewarding companies whose services and products are both good for them and good for society. This demand also occurs in the workplace as prospective employees look for companies whose core values match their own. A CSR program helps with this outward perception, improving how outside third parties think about a brand. If you need more convincing, a recent Harvard Business School study found that investments in sustainability issues are “shareholder-value increasing” – meaning communicating your CSR program will impact your bottom line.

Have you successfully launched a CSR program? What’s your story?