Better Together: Entity Brands Commitment to a Better World

Emily Gigot  

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is vital to a company’s continued success. Whether viewed as simply the right thing to do, a way to manage risk, an opportunity to innovate or an avenue for brand differentiation, the business case for social responsibility has been made.

Companies must understand and take responsibility for their social and environmental impacts, in addition to keeping an eye on their bottom line. For many companies, social responsibility may have its roots in corporate giving or philanthropy, or be founded in compliance with labor laws or environmental regulations. However today the most effective companies have broadened their scope of work and are embedding CSR into their corporate strategy – they proactively address their impact on the environment and make a difference on the people and communities where they do business.

According to the consulting firm McKinsey, global clothing production doubled from 2000-2014 and is expected to grow in 2017. Globally, apparel employs millions of people and inherent in its manufacture is an incredible amount of natural resources – inputs like water and chemicals to outputs like carbon and waste. The sheer scale of the apparel industry presents a tremendous opportunity – and necessity – for conscious impact.

Using business as a lever for change the apparel industry can stand up for human rights and improve working conditions. We can build products and processes that are safe and regenerative for the environment. We can leverage our economic success to develop safe, healthy, and vibrant communities.

When evaluating a company’s social responsibility practices, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

 

Are they living their values?

It’s one thing to make a claim in an annual report or on a website, but find out if the company is acting in a way that aligns with their values. External, feel-good stories should be questioned if there’s not adequate evidence that, internally, the organization is being run ethically and with integrity.

 

Is their work material to their business?

While building houses may be a noble cause for an automaker, a company’s greatest impact is typically associated with their product or service. Look for signs that the company has examined its own operations and is addressing any negative impacts – and making improvements – in their direct value chain.

 

Are their achievements verifiable and transparent?

Verification is where the rubber meets the road. We can’t all be expert fact-checkers, so alignment with reputable standards-setting or industry organizations can provide assurance that any claims made are accurate and have been vetted.

 

As a customer, you play a vital role in social responsibility. While it’s imperative that business use its power for good, customers often set the pace.