All companies talk about corporate social contribution and social responsibility. In general, corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to activities that have a positive impact on society by complying with laws and ethics and responding appropriately to the needs of internal and external stakeholders as well as profit seeking activities for the survival of the company. What is the corporate social contribution? Why should companies share in this responsibility? If you are a business owner, this article will help you a lot.
USA corporates social contribution is one of the activities of social responsibility in the United States, and it refers to all activities that the company contributes to solving social problems, especially activities that preferentially focus on the local community to which the company belongs. These social contribution activities are recognized as essential management elements for the company to survive in the market beyond the simple charitable level. In other words, social responsibility is an important "business" that must be carried out continuously to gain a good reputation with the government, civil society and customers.
The local social contribution activities of companies began to expand in terms of size and content in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and have continued to change and evolve until now.
Initially, the role of the giver was the main one. Since grants are simple donations made by companies, publicity was important to induce continued support from the company. At the time, the public perception of social contribution activities was to support projects such as civic groups and taking pictures together at press releases. Of course, such simple acts are criticized for being a social contribution to propaganda without a real positive impact on society.
Then, starting in the mid-2000s, the concept of strategic social contribution began to spread. In order to make a more effective social contribution, the capabilities of the company must be integrated and linked to business strategies. Since then, companies have begun efforts to respond more effectively to social problems.
And in order to secure the necessary budget for social contribution activities, the company is required to take decisions collectively, and not just the decision of the responsible organization. In other words, the budget for its validity and effectiveness must be approved by the shareholders and the board of directors. This is why the “strategic” social contribution has come to the fore. However, the association with the performance of the company's financial management has not been considered.
As companies evolve into a situation where they take a more active and direct approach to solving social problems, they raise fundamental issues of social contribution not only within the company but also outside the company. It is a question of whether the firm will play a leading or a supporting role in solving social problems. The question of “Can companies be the primary agent in solving social problems” is a sensitive and important issue that stems from a critical corporate perspective.
At the root of raising this issue, it can be seen that the assertion that the role of a “simple booster” is appropriate for the company and that the topic of solving social problems lies outside the company. However, since the field of corporate social contribution has continuously evolved with the overcoming of initial problems, it has provided the opportunity to establish a new role for the company that contributes to both the productivity of society and the profitability of the company.
Let's first get acquainted with the concept of the company.
A company is an organization that combines various functions necessary to create value. The representative concept that formulated these characteristics is the corporate value chain model. By looking at these framework models, it is relatively easy to understand the roles and how common internal organizations such as sales, distribution, production, human resources, and finance play a role in a company's big picture and how they come together. However, it is difficult to estimate the position of the social contribution or CSR sections in these models. What role should they play and where should they be located?
The role of the “social contribution team or department” can be defined as the change maker. They are the actors who devise new ways to transcend the level of awareness and working methods of stakeholders in unfriendly environments, and envision new values of business activities through collaboration with NGOs, governments and various actors in the external environment. It could be our view that the role should also have a sense of historical mission.
In fact, social contribution work often has to be carried out under unfavorable conditions. Within the company, there are times when it is not a good time to spend your hard-earned money. The validity of a social contribution is often questioned if it is not a false advertising activity. Otherwise, you may be in a situation where you are not welcomed by both the other companies and the community.
At the moment, corporate social contribution activities still have many factors slowing down their development. First of all, there are not many entrepreneurs who have seriously thought about the role and value of the "Social Contribution Department", that is, the understanding of CSR and specific implementation plans.
Even experts who study this field often take only a superficial and fragmentary approach, and it is difficult to comprehensively understand and combine perspectives from various fields such as management, economics, welfare, politics, and civil society.
Unfortunately, compared to the importance of the social role of the company, the fact is that there are not enough experts or research activities in this field. As a result, discussions about corporate social roles flow ideologically, and divisions and conflicts often occur due to differences of attitude rather than cooperation.
Another issue is the professionalization of social contribution work. Because companies lack knowledge, values, and standards in carrying out their social contribution work, they often rely entirely on outside parties such as non-governmental charities and welfare experts. It's a way to secure the budget. It is normal that there are no corporate experts who get paid for charitable activities. It would seem like a joke.
However publicizing social contribution activities, doing good things in the community and spreading it is not a bad thing. When good performance is known and recognized, the company can secure financial resources for ongoing social contribution projects.
In addition, while promoting the performance itself is important, the real publicity is to help other companies implement social contribution projects more effectively by promoting the business model that one company has been contemplating and implementing that has achieved successful results.
The problem for companies is that they spend more on public relations than on social performance. In particular, the realization of social value does not happen overnight, and takes several years or more. Although the social contribution in itself is considered the best possible way to achieve effective results in public relations in addition to advertising and marketing.
Therefore, social contribution activities are a part of the main business activities which are no less important than any for-profit activity.
But how can small and large companies contribute to society effectively.
The answer to this question needs to be considered, as the social contribution is not only donations, but it is a mixture of projects that need work teams to implement. The work team should consist of a separate department and a budget spent on implementation.
The main roles of the company's social contribution department have two important aspects to be noted.
First, to contribute to reforming the awareness of the various entities within the company. Not only does this convince executives to set an actual business budget, but it also communicates with a variety of people within the company, including colleagues and other departments around them.
The second is to create a partnership model that can help external parties, such as civil society and government, understand the new roles and activities of the company, stimulate their cooperation, and work together.
In addition, an important function of the social contribution team is that it provides a way of knowing how the company should develop, i.e. the various attempts to become a company that evolve with society.
So far, the companies' view of the outside of the company is that of the seller's view of the market only, not as a partner that grows with the growth of the surrounding environment. However, recently, a new economy based on the spirit of society is emerging as an alternative, but companies have a poor understanding of it, and the basis for its application to business activities is very weak. A social contribution business can be a good way to find out about these shortcomings in a company. This is because the core of social contribution business is the process by which companies create new alternatives through ongoing relationships with government, civil society, customers and employees in order to find an answer to how society and companies communicate and coexist.
Through this, companies can recognize their role as a “corporate citizen” which is a counterpart term for “individual citizen”, in which companies must learn new areas outside the traditional areas of company activity and learn lessons from them. A representative example is the promotion of "social enterprise" business, as it is an ideal that demonstrates how the business model can contribute to the creation of social value.
By strengthening the work of social enterprises, companies begin to think about and understand various issues and problems such as corporate problems, cooperatives, and shared values.
How do we build a desirable partnership?
As mentioned above, for the successful implementation of social contribution work, it is necessary to work with different stakeholders to achieve a common goal. At home, the company must be able to rely on resources and support within the company first, and outside the company and its officials must communicate with partners outside the company. In order to play a more effective role.
It is an important issue how the company will promote its social contribution activities. In particular, how to share roles with other actors, such as government and charities, is an issue of great importance in terms of creating cooperation and solidarity. The most ideal model is, of course, the way government, civic groups and corporations form partnerships and work closely together. However, working together is not as easy as it seems, because the goals and methods of work for each field are completely different. Based on own experience, the necessary elements of multilateral cooperation can be summarized in the following five.
The first is empathy. The first step to cooperation begins with empathy. Empathy with acknowledgment of social problems is the first thing, followed by 'sympathy with vision'.
The second is to understand the differences between each other. Since the goals pursued by each other are different, it is normal for the methods of work to be markedly different. Efforts should be made to identify differences first and reduce disputes through mutual cooperation based on understanding. There is no objection to competition in doing good for society as well.
The third is the will to communicate. Even if it is not a formal meeting and business communication, an ongoing channel of communication is essential. It is important to make efforts to bridge differences of opinion through informal meetings and discussions.
The fourth is the mediator. For the multilateral effort to develop into a substantive collaborative relationship, it is essential to have someone who understands, respects, and actively communicates with everyone. This is the most important part of the multilateral cooperation model. Even if all parties to social work are already telling the same story, government, charities, and companies communicate in very different terms and narratives, so in many cases they misunderstand and hurt each other. In order to overcome these conflicts, it is essential that your company has experts with extensive experience in working methods, culture and methods of communication with charities and government agencies.
In many cases, it can be seen that the success or failure of establishing a social partnership depends on how well the communication between people working in this field is.
The fifth is to create a model in which practically everyone can win. Instead of vaguely claiming only social values, when developing and suggesting models that can help each other, discussions about concrete collaboration begin in earnest. As an example of multilateral cooperation measures, companies provide initial financial support, project management, technical support, marketing support, education, training, establishment of management system, etc. NGOs can be depicted playing a role in creating and delivering social values to beneficiaries by linking civil society and actual business processes.
What we would like to emphasize to companies wanting to contribute socially is 'Empathy'.
Empathy is something that can never be achieved by sitting at a desk and looking at plans, the Internet, books, and reading such an article.
The most important thing is to hear the stories of the real community on the ground and in slums and slums. And to learn from and honestly understand these true stories while visiting partners – community members, families, families, youth and women – where the key to building true social partnerships lies in empathic effort.
From this point of view, the process of finding, trying and seeking an effective corporate role in solving social problems is a very important process in terms of corporate sustainability. To this end, awareness and change must be promoted within the company of the responsibility and role as a socially honest “corporate citizen” that serves the community.
Last but not least:
The problems in our society belong to all of us. It is the time when it is required to develop an effective model for solving problems together. Different experiences and developments are needed as government, civil society and businesses work together. It will also be necessary to redefine the actors' roles.