Are companies more profitable when they engage in corporate social responsibility? Daniel Korschun, assistant professor of marketing, raised that very question as a featured speaker at this year’s Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference held in Philadelphia last weekend. An expert in CSR and co-author of the book Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Business and Social Value, Korschun and his colleague Stephanie Gazzerro, a sustainability analyst at FMC Corporation, presented the topic, “Leveraging Corporate Social Responsibility,” to students from around the country attending the three-day conference.
Are companies more profitable when they engage in CSR?
After sparking discussion with the question and yes, research does show a modest effect, Korschun says, he mock interviewed Gazzerro about her role at FMC and the challenges she faces being one of the first to drive the CSR initiative in what she called “a relatively conservative manufacturing company.”
Throughout the presentation, Korschun and Gazzerro offered the undergraduate audience some basic information about working for companies engaged with CSR. Here are some tips:
- Customers are driving CSR initiatives so be prepared to answer their questions.
- Companies that are effective about their CSR efforts have concrete goals that are communicated whether goals are met or not.
- Look to your competition and other companies as examples of the type of work being done in CSR.
- Since CSR is a relatively new position in companies, employees need to be comfortable with ambiguity as strategy and tactics are being developed.
- Read business journals even if you’re not a business major to be able to communicate in the same “language” as your peers.
- If a position is not available in a company that could benefit from a CSR champion, suggest an internship outlying all of the parameters of the position.