CSR DURING COVID-19Anil Birla | May 20, 2020
Corporate Social Responsibility (not necessarily the mandatory 2% spend under the Companies Act) plays a very vital role now more than ever. With the rampant spread of the Coronavirus, much like the spread that knows no borders or divisions, businesses are demanded to show loyalty to every stakeholder .
Identifying with CSR-equipped business - The ‘Was’ and ‘Is’
What earlier proved to be good for business was to meet the altruistic needs of goals that were worthy, to a society that was mostly working towards combining all the business and social goals.
While 2020 started off good, COVID-19 happened. So what IS, is a very different scenario that has to face long term and short term challenges created by this epidemic that leaves no business unaffected. Which is where learning the benefits of CSR plays a vital role now more than ever.
CSR starts at home
While we focus on catering to our consumers, it is easy to let our staff slip our minds. But, CSR during COVID-19 demands a newer approach where employees benefit too. Start off by ensuring your employees’ safety and security, allowing them flexibility and lesser job-related stress. Extending your helping hand to ensure their mental safety as well is crucial too.
To keep your employees comfortable and ready-for-work in an environment that is new to both entities is by listening to them, just as you’d listen to your customers.
Support small business and give them a leg up. This will be a bucket of its own under CSR as across the nation, there are so many small businesses that have already been shut down and some of which have been capsized due to tumultuous waters. Some businesses are somehow managing to hold on and it takes good CSR to lift them up with the necessary funds that will keep them afloat.
Companies like Intuit have joined hands with Indian Fundraising organisations like Milaap to help uplift small businesses who suffer the worst hit. While milaap has constantly been working to help individual communities and businesses in the past as well, the COVID-19 situation has given the organisation fuel to help fight the pandemic. On the other hand, The Embassy Group of Companies brought together a consortium of companies to help support students facing SSLC exams. Many companies have contributed what they can in similar ways to uplift our society, understanding the need of the hour and realising their social responsibility.
So what are the key takeaways?
- Support mental wellness and consider that the highest priority to maintain good relations with your employees.
- Provide financial security and try not to lose out on valuable additions to the organisations.
- Give small business a leg up and keep them afloat.
CSR and Brand sensitivity during tough times
While it is important to self-promote and stay in the minds of people, it is also important to keep sensitivity in mind. People wouldn’t want to see you market your brand/business during these times whatever it be. So how do you find the balance?
Humanizing brands during a period of major dislocation
While It is important to let the world know what you are up against and how you are facing it, it is also important for us as people and as brands to address others with humanity, empathy and financial assistance to whoever needs it the most.
Stick to communicating about CSR via a single platform
Brands that blow their own horns are not the reassurance people are looking for. While the world falls apart, it doesn’t stand well to brand without humanity. Which is why branding about your socially responsible activities should be kept to the minimum and done with empathy, reminding people what we stand for during the most devastating change in the ways of the world. It is important to comfort them, yet remind them of the implications and the sustainable solutions.
What is the biggest takeaway from COVID-19?
REASSURANCE. The public feels like they are in safe hands when there is any form of reassurance. When someone reads a simple article about how a man fed the strays or fended for the downtrodden during a plight will uplift their spirit. But what comes with reassurance from a buisness of any size, is BRAND LOYALTY. And thus CSR can work on multiple levels for business of different sizes now more than ever.
Continue being patient, continue being a socially responsible business. And that means more than fulfilling the statutory obligations.