Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into Your Business Model


With the rise of social movements, it has become increasingly clear that social issues are no longer being treated as separate from businesses. It is important to understand how participating in corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices can contribute to overall employee satisfaction and business success by integrating the company’s values, employees’ skills and service into their community.

CSR is most commonly known as a self-regulating business model that encourages the social accountability of a company, its stakeholders and the public.

Dove and Aerie are two examples of companies that have successfully employed CSR. Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign” highlights women of different shapes, sizes and colors, while Aerie’s campaign highlights women with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Both companies, however, spread awareness about the need for diverse representation in the media and body positivity, while still effectively marketing their products.

Sustainability, gender equality, hunger and education disparity are examples of other social issues driving businesses to participate in CSR.

Statistics show that consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that shows CSR. For example, the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report stated that 66 percent of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand.

In addition, millennials are increasingly demanding more CSR, which is a big factor to take into consideration as millennials and younger generations gain power as buyers. According to Cone Communications, millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power and are 60 percent more likely to engage with brands that discuss social causes.

While the McDonnell Group is still evolving as a marketing agency and in the way we do business with clients, we’ve maintained a CSR program since the inception of the company 14 years ago, which has proven to work well for all stakeholders.

Of course, there are different ways companies can find the right CSR program. Ryan McCarty, TCC’s director of customer and employee relations, suggested in a Forbes article that companies could do so by: creating a culture built on doing good, following employees’ interests, providing time off for volunteer efforts and getting customers involved annually, letting employees lead the cause and getting feedback.

At MG, we employ a similar CSR program tailored to fit the company and the stakeholders’ needs. Don McDonnell, CEO of MG, has three guidelines he has used to find an effective CSR program that may also work well for your company:

1. Understand your stakeholders and their values.

It is crucial to measure and understand the priorities of the company’s stakeholders. For example, at MG, we serve the energy industry, the Atlanta-based technology community and the local community. Therefore, we try to not only provide services, but also to engage the broader energy community in contributing to a worthy cause.

“A CSR platform that is inconsistent with your stakeholders is not going to work,” McDonnell said. “I view CSR strategy as almost part of marketing strategy these days because it really is about your brand, what you’re known for and what people feel and associate with you as a brand or company.”

One way we do this is by partnering with Heating Energy Assistance Team, Inc. to contribute in the name of research participants in lieu of prizes since we know that meeting heating needs is an issue for low-income families in Georgia.

Another way we do this is by supporting the Goshen Valley Classic, an annual golf tournament that is the main fundraiser for the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, an accredited foster community. Each year, the office is closed so that all the staff at MG can volunteer at the event.

Participating in something that supports the company’s stakeholders’ values will benefit the community and will also help the company’s employees and clients feel fulfilled that they are a part of a company that is making a difference in people’s lives.

2. Establish a clear set of resonant focused values that embody the company’s mission and vision.

Ensure that the company’s values are immovable so that when they are challenged by the decision making of executives, you can determine whether they support the company’s CSR strategy. Also, figure out how the company’s values reflect the operating mission and vision.

Part of MG’s mission and vision is to create value for our clients’ businesses and to create efficiencies. The whole idea of efficiency is core to MG’s social responsibility perspective because efficiency lends benefits to all stakeholders. Enabling the efficiency and success of clients and spurring economic growth supports the development enrichment of communities, which, at its core, is what CSR is all about. 

3. Communicate what is important.

Implementing certain programs, such as environmental stewardship programs, social responsibility programs and volunteer efforts, should make the company’s stakeholders and employees excited. In addition, if those programs reflect the company’s values, then the CSR program will flow through and will appear genuine. A company’s efforts won’t seem genuine if the actual behaviors of the people who live the brand don’t match up.

It may be helpful to start off by taking some time to map out and identify some of the challenges considered important to your company and society. The key takeaway for finding the right CSR program for your company is understanding that to be done correctly it must be genuine, and that requires having a clear understanding of stakeholders’ values.

For help with finding the right CSR program for your company or any other marketing support, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. MG or visit our website for more information. 

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