What is a CSR Program?

We now live in a world where we can truly see how connected we all are. Because of advances in technology and social media taking over our lives, it’s now imperative that businesses offer full transparency to their customers. Consumers are smarter and more well-informed than ever, and they want assurances that they’re buying from companies that don’t participate in harmful business practices. Going one step further, consumers would rather buy from companies that are actually giving back and making a positive difference in the world too. That’s where corporate social responsibility (CSR) comes into play. Not familiar with the term? Read on to learn more about the importance of CSR programs and how they’re changing the fashion industry as a whole.

What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

CSR, also known as corporate citizenship, is a self-regulating business model that helps a company to become socially accountable (to its stakeholders, the media, the public, etc.). Companies who use CSR programs put into place specific practices that will have a positive impact in different areas of society, ranging from economically to socially to environmentally. The company has decided, typically from the very top ranks, to operate their business in a way that enhances the world around them and steers clear of causing any negative effects.

What is a CSR program?

CSR programs are established by the company in order to have clear, transparent goals and to use responsible corporate methods to achieve those goals. CSR programs generally fall under four broad areas:

1. Environmental

The business takes steps to shrink its carbon footprint and seeks to produce products that are sustainable and eco-friendly. This may look like more green practices in areas like manufacturing, packaging, shipping, etc. and less waste of natural resources.

2. Philanthropy

The company actively donates money, products or services to social causes and non-profit organisations. This can be a percentage of sales given to good causes, offering employees perks for volunteer work, and other activities with a focus on giving back.

3. Volunteering

Companies encourage employees to volunteer for non-profits or organise specific activities where employees at all levels can volunteer time or resources to give back. These activities are done with the knowledge that they’re being generous and won’t necessarily receive anything in return.

4. Ethical work practices 

Workers employed by the business are treated fairly and ethically with policies that support and keep them safe. Basically, the company treats its employees with the utmost respect for their time and for who they are as people.

csr program

Image by Campaign Creators on Unsplash: CSR programs allow employees to work together to come up with ways the company can give back.

So what is the main purpose of CSR programs? The idea is to create corporations that are able to turn profits by also placing importance on being socially responsible to their consumers, as well as for their workers. The goal is to lift up everyone affected by the company without using CSR efforts as a way to get positive media attention (though this could follow organically). It means that the corporation wants to use its power to make the world a better place in any way it can.

CSR programs play a role in ethical consumerism because customers are shopping smarter as they’ve become more educated. Nowadays, consumers will learn of businesses whose policies they don’t agree with and simply make the decision to no longer use their services. Consumers are deciding now more than ever to purchase with their conscience. This means that companies who aren’t practising some form of CSR could get left in the dust of the businesses that are reinventing themselves to help the environment or the less fortunate. People generally want to be on the side of good, so they’ll turn towards companies that make them feel good about their purchases and allow them to feel like they have a small hand in making a positive impact on the world.

What is corporate social responsibility in the fashion industry?

Quite a few companies in the fashion industry have stepped up to implement CSR programs. Fast-fashion brands like H&M and Zara and luxury brands like LVMH have all instituted CSR practises to help reduce their carbon footprints and improve sustainability. Many companies have been cited for having irresponsible practices (like Gap and Forever 21), so a switch has begun to develop in the mindset of the fashion industry: being socially responsible is necessary, and it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t still be profitable. Since consumers are becoming more involved in activism and in giving back, companies need to match this enthusiasm. Some have already started, such as brands like TOMS, which donates a portion of every sale to benefit needy individuals, and Gucci, which has donated to important social issues like gun control.

corporate social responsibility

Image by Perry Grone on Unsplash: You’ll actually feel good about supporting companies who place importance on giving back.

Why is it important to buy from companies with CSR programs?

If you don’t tend to research the products you’re buying, you might unknowingly be contributing to businesses that harm the environment or fail to treat their workers fairly. Taking a little extra time to find out who you’re really buying from can end up being a really meaningful step. You can research which brands have CSR programs you approve of and divert your business to those companies. Information on their CSR programs can typically be found on companies’ websites. Even doing some quick Google searches can help you discover a specific company’s business practices. Don’t feel bad about boycotting companies that don’t fit with your ethics or morals – that’s just money you can spend on corporations that are actually working to make a difference in the world.

Here at Protected Species, we use a fabric mill that specialises in environmentally sound principles. Everything we use is recycled, renewable and chemically optimised to provide low pollution characteristics (so no harmful substances are used or released into the environment). Our CSR efforts work to support after-school programs and local hospitals, and we ensure all our employees are valued, highly-trained, safe and supported. We’ve based our entire business on bringing positive change to the world, and we’ll continue to do so. Our customers can trust that our business is about so much more than just earning a profit – it’s also about working to make the world a better place for everyone.

Featured image by You X Ventures on Unsplash