In a recent article appearing in Newsweek magazine, author Sam Hill observes that while it’s still unclear whether Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs “will one day make the world a better place,” they are benefiting companies that have implemented them.
Taking a controversial stance on a social issue doesn’t come without risk though. For example, the article notes that CVS’s 2014 decision to stop selling tobacco products cost it $2 billion a year in sales; Campbell Soup sales fell by 32% when they announced that they were reducing salt levels; and Dick’s Sporting Goods lost customers and employees when they stopped selling assault rifles.
However, the article explains that “many companies feel the do-gooder dividend outweighs the risks, both in relations with consumers and in day-to-day operations.” Brad McLane, Managing Director and leader of the firm’s Marketing Officers and Consumer Goods and Services Practices, based in Chicago, states that “companies aren’t doing it just to say they have it. My clients are incorporating it into how they do business—what ingredients they use, where they source, how they design products.” Case in point, the chief sustainability officer at Pepsico remarked that CSR is “woven into how we operate as a business… It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s important to our business.”