Exploring CSR Strategies During a Crisis

May 19, 2020

The current crisis has impacted the world in a way, we could not have imagined. Covid-19 has instilled a sense of fear and uncertainty, compelling people to keep their physical distance, but at the same time, bringing them empathetically closer than ever. The pandemic has transformed our way of life. The changes are happening at the blink of an eye.

During this chaos, companies that are going the extra mile to acknowledge their social responsibilities, are the ones that will emerge out of this crisis stronger than before. Those enforcing CSR strategies to meet stakeholder expectations during the current crisis are effectively unleashing a plethora of new business opportunities, while inculcating trust and loyalty for their brand. Implementing a CSR strategy during this crisis, can help build a robust reputation.
Several brands have implemented CSR strategies amid the current crisis to show support to their community.
EBay pledged to donate $100 million to the “Up & Running” accelerator platform to provide support to small businesses. As part of this programme, they will provide marketing and merchandising tools, shipping supplies and supply chain facilities to iron out the online transition of the businesses they are helping.
According to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, “The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees.”
To combat this issue, Facebook Inc. has vowed to distribute $100 million in cash grants and advertising credits to around 30,000 small retail businesses across 30 countries. These funds will be used to subsidize marketing, operational and distribution costs. Apart from this, each employee will also receive $1,000 bonuses. 

An effective CSR strategy is a source of goodwill, safe-guarding a firm from the adverse implications of a crisis. Nike is doing the same by making all their training and workout content freely accessible. Additionally, they have announced donations worth $15 million to fight the coronavirus. The Nike Foundation is contributing $1.1 million through the King Baudouin Foundation to show support to their community partners across Europe and several other countries.

Social responsibilities are not only confined to external stakeholders. In an attempt to show their support to employees, firms such as Uber, Microsoft and Twitter have promised to pay their hourly-wage rate workers, and are taking extra efforts to boost employee morale, productivity and loyalty even as they work from home.
The scope of corporate social responsibility lies much beyond philanthropy. Apple, H&M and Amazon are manufacturing medical and personal protective equipment for distribution to hospitals and health care workers to curb the demand – supply challenges.
While some provide financial support, brands such as Bird’s Eye, Tesco, Virgin Media, Nationwide amongst several others, are engaging with their audience to provide mental health support.

Most organisations become overly cautious during a crisis. The ones that take efforts to reach out to their employees, customers and communities will grow stronger post-crisis.
Apart from building brand reputation, CSR initiatives unlock organisational growth and stakeholder satisfaction.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently “ – Warren Buffet
Surprisingly, CSR and crisis management are closely linked.  Very few leaders implement socially responsible initiatives as part of their crisis – prevention plan. CSR should be an ongoing activity to support reputation in the long-term. There are accessible and creative ways organisations with smaller budgets can help with sustainability and socially responsible initiatives. CSR is not limited to the domain of the big players only.
LSPR’s course on ‘Implementing a successful CSR strategy’ is recommended to those motivated to understand the importance of CSR and its impact on reputation during a crisis. Guided by industry experts, the live remote learning  programme will help you to explore the latest trends pertaining to sustainability and how to build them into your company’s business model.

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