Business

What Is Corporate Social Activism?

At a glance, “corporate social activism” may seem like little more than just another business buzzword. But, in reality, it’s key to doing business in the modern world. It’s critical that today’s leaders use corporate social activism to build a socially conscious organization, whether through a sense of corporate social responsibility (or CSR) or with their stakeholders and bottom line in mind. In the process, a socially responsible company can have a positive impact on its business strategy, its local community, and the world at large.

What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?

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Also known as corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility (CSR) involves a company having a positive societal impact, whether it’s through environmental, economic, or social responsibility. The concept is sparked by the larger social movement of millennials and Gen Z being more likely than baby boomers and other generations to support companies with business practices that reflect their own feelings on social issues like climate change, human rights, and other social justice priorities. Whether it’s speaking out on environmental issues or implementing business practices that incorporate philanthropy, CSR builds a positive image for the company and draws customers to join them in, not just supporting the cause at hand, but supporting the responsible company that’s promoting it.

What is Corporate Social Activism?

In short, corporate social activism refers to the actions behind the words a responsible business offers. Corporate social activism goes beyond social responsibility in that it’s active by definition. A company promoting environmental sustainability won’t simply tweet, “We love the environment!” on Earth Day. Instead, a responsible company will make sustainability an integral part of its business model. From biodegradable packaging to eco-friendly business practices, the company does more than better its reputation—it will create tangible social impact, helping to make the world a better place.

How Can a Company Implement Corporate Social Activism?

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Going beyond CSR, corporate social activism can be considered a sort of CSR initiative, taking the public relations-centric ideas that build a company’s reputation and making them into genuine social benefits. In implementing corporate social activism, a company might care about appealing to customers that agree with the cause. More importantly, it genuinely hopes to influence public policy. A company engages in corporate social activism when it advocates for social change, pushing towards public policy initiatives focused on moral or social change. This may come in the form of donating to a worthy cause. It may focus on using your corporate platform to promote non-profit organizations working towards a socially responsible end goal. And, of course, it can come through your own efforts to act on a sense of corporate responsibility.

Patagonia, for example, promotes environmental activism in a myriad of ways. They apply a self-imposed “Earth tax” to support environmentally conscious nonprofits and connect customers to organizations working towards a societal good. In their own efforts, Patagonia prioritizes durability, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility in creating products and otherwise managing their business practices. LinkGraph is another company that’s dedicated to having a positive impact, donating to organizations helping animals, their local community, and the environment. It’s noteworthy that they also aim to make the customer feel included in these efforts. More than a line of corporate governance, their efforts read as a way that you, too, can get involved in saving the world.

Why Should a Company Implement Corporate Social Activism?

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Of course, a responsible company will be grateful for its place in a social movement its leadership feels strongly about. Whether it’s putting environmental protection plans into action or investing in renewable energy sources, large and small businesses alike can give legitimacy to their sense of corporate responsibility with responsible business practices and other actions. Being a for-profit business and depending on stakeholders, its corporate social performance needs to have financial benefits, too. Fortunately, socially conscious consumers ensure that an organization actively supporting social causes will see the payoff in their economic performance. If CSR alone doesn’t convince a company’s leadership to take action, an increased shareholder value and better bottom line just might.

Corporate social activism and social responsibility (CSR) are both important concepts in the realms of business, public relations, and corporate social performance. A company practicing corporate social activism in their business practices, public policy initiatives, and customer relations will find themselves with customers dedicated to supporting social movements and socially conscious companies.

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