Companies are becoming more and more accountable when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the 2014 World Cup kicks off, for example, FIFA and the Brazilian organising committee are keen to shout about the efforts they’ve made to make this the most sustainable tournament yet.
Informal CSR guidelines mean that companies should manage their business dealings and processes to produce an overall positive impact on the world. A socially responsible business cares about the direct and indirect impacts that they have on both local and international communities.
The ongoing expansion of Digital Corporate Social Responsibility (DCSR) is going to place increased demand on companies to be responsible in this area. It’s a movement that’s gathering pace, and our modern, digital culture is not only helping businesses fulfil their obligations to society, but push their contributions even further than before. The ability to reach out and connect so easily to people all around the world is raising the bar for DCSR.
Engaging with digital means using energy and hi-tech electronics, so businesses should think about how this will impact their carbon footprint. The good news is that electronic products are constantly minimising their energy consumption.
Two of Brazil’s World Cup stadia are entirely solar-powered. The 500kW solar panels on the roof of the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, for example, will power the info towers and stadium lighting. The panels at Arena Pernambuco will supply 30% of the stadium’s needs on match days and delivering power to the local electricity grid the rest of the time.
At PAULEY for example, we produce programs that offer alternatives to using paper and printers. We also strive to select environmentally efficient hardware, powered by renewable solutions.
Governments worldwide are investing in the huge potential of digital communications technology to connect people, transcending boundaries and bringing communities together to benefit one another.
Charity and digital technology, for example, are now intrinsically linked. Many fundraisers now collect sponsorship through websites such as JustGiving. Digital and web-connected technologies unite people from around the world – perhaps through video, Skype or social media – to spread the word about charitable causes and mobilise positive change.
Companies practising DCSR are also better able to inform their customers and the wider global community about the positive changes they are making, through online campaigns, social media and smart content marketing.
Giving people a voice
Digital technology is giving more and more people a voice in society, whether through blogs, podcasts, social networks and citizen journalism. Anyone with a smartphone or computer can now publish content of their own.
The World Cup organising committee have created a Green Passport app for smartphones, designed for travellers visiting the matches. Its aim is to give visitors ideas about how they can be respectful both for the environment and the economic and social development of Brazilian communities.
Better access to services
Digital and online access to resources, such as e-training, can allow companies to provide better, more globally widespread access to education, knowledge and opportunities.
The rollout of fast broadband provides solutions to a number of local, regional and global challenges, such as access to education in remote villages. With satellite broadband solutions and advances in e-learning, village children can benefit from home schooling using interactive, multimedia lessons. Such e-learning can even be powered by solar power and other renewable energies, as shown by organisation such as the Maendeleo Foundation.
Things to bear in mind
Companies need to remember that all this openness and connection and increased visibility makes them just that – much more visible. Irresponsible behaviour is easily spotted and many big businesses have made social media faux pas. Change has to be heartfelt, and everything your company says or does online will be noted and viewed in the context of whether they are being socially responsible. Don’t let silly mistakes affect your reputation.
The digital media output of businesses should always consider diversity, aiming for a portfolio that reflects and benefits multicultural and diverse (local and global) society. Hand-in-hand with this goes content integrity: you should know and make clear the provenance and reliability of everything you post online so that you avoid misleading your audience.
Lastly, everything you put ‘out there’ about your business has the power to influence your clients and a wider audience. Think carefully about what it is you want to give back to society, and then go for it – the benefits will be priceless.