The Ideas2Impact event series was created to connect leaders of CSR programs across industries and across the country in order to share resources and success stories. The city-centric nature of these events provided valuable insights into what companies are doing in their city, as well as nationally and globally. One of the common themes that emerged from panel discussions was authenticity.
So what does authenticity mean for companies?
The need for authenticity becomes increasingly important with the information and choice available to consumers and job applicants. Building brand loyalty to increase sales, as well as attracting top talent, means genuine investments in your CSR programs.
Patty Tucker, the EVP of Edelman’s Corporate Affairs practice spoke on the impact of authenticity and trust on employees and organizations, “We are earning the loyalty of employees among their employers. We are earning third-party stakeholders’ trust that we are good executives or manufacturers. We talk about engagement because we cannot tell the world anything anymore - we have to prove it. We study trust. We have 15 years of tracking a trust barometer, which helps us dig into the triggers that people want to engage on, whether that’s as a customer or an employee.”
For consumers, authentic, purpose-driven brands inspire brand loyalty and increased sales. Tony Rodriguez from Guidestar touched on the concept of conscious consumerism and its impact on sales, “I keep hearing colleagues and customers talking about conscious consumerism. They’d rather buy from a company that they know is also doing something to benefit the community or the world.” Since information on company initiatives is readily available, conscious consumerism favors companies who actively build their CSR programs.
Gretchen Digby from Ingersoll Rand further emphasized the need for authentic programs because of a more informed workforce, “We’re seeing more and more of the scrutiny, especially from the youth coming in, wanting to work for our company. They don’t even come talk to us at a career fair unless they’ve read our sustainability report.” For talent attraction and retention, genuine CSR efforts have crossed the line from nice to necessary.
To attract and retain top talent, impact communities, and create trust and brand loyalty with consumers, companies need to invest in authentic social responsibility efforts.