So, corporate social responsibility. That's when big business spends a bit of money in the local community to offset whatever morals it's undermining or harm it's causing with its immense wealth.
Or, as the University of Bath's Tobacco Tactics puts it: "...activity whereby socially harmful companies set their own minimum standards for social performance, enabling them to externalise their costs onto societies and consumers while passing themselves off as socially responsible."
That's what I thought anyway. Before I went into PR I had a pretty cynical view of the whole concept.
You know -- Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund and Philip Morris International's Step Change.
Then, studying for the PR diploma, I learned a bit more about it and saw more of the philanthropic side of things. Appreciated the importance of business paying back.
And then... I started writing the shownotes for podcasts by coaching-in-nature organisation business EarthSelf, and finally encountered some truly conscientious businesses that aren't engaging in CSR just because it's the in thing and their marketing execs told them to -- but because they understand and believe in a wellbeing economy, and the power and importance of supporting community and sustainability.
Companies like SF Bay Coffee, which funds the farmers who produce their coffee beans, and has so far built more than 63 schools, 1,700 housing communities and more than a dozen medical centres.
And Sheets & Giggles, which gives 1% of its profits to impactful non-profits in the local community, last year donated 20% of its revenue in one weekend, between Purple Friday and Cyber Monday — totalling more than $17,000 — to the World Wildlife Fund, and plants a tree in the US for every order it receives.
And Scott Bader's 2036 Vision, which annually donates 80% of its 'Scott Bader Commonwealth' income as grants to charitable activities and projects around the world.
And, last but not least, my client EarthSelf itself, which was the reason I discovered these great companies and was reinvigorated by the idea of what could be done -- what IS being done -- to deliver sustainable business.
EarthSelf's partnership with social enterprise B1G1 saw it marking our working relationship by donating a woman in Tanzania a week's worth of finance and business training.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 70% of people living below the poverty line, and 16% of children under five being malnourished.
The partnership work B1G1 offers businesses helps women build their own businesses through education, business training and access to financial services. This, in turn, uplifts their families and communities to help pave the way for a sustainable future.
This is true social responsibility; one that corporates and big business should all engage in.
In fact -- I'll practise what I preach and look to sign up Green Gables Editing with B1G1 right now...