By Alice Williams
Women are good for business and particularly executive-level women: A study from global accounting firm Grant Thornton found that companies with at least one female executive board member performed better than those with male-only boards. Women play a major role in enabling better decision making at companies, creating sustainable organizations and increasing annual company philanthropic contributions.
Women and corporate social responsibility (CSR) go hand-in-hand. CSR is a solid long-term strategic practice that many of the world’s most successful companies have embraced. Companies with a strong commitment to CSR have been shown to have more satisfied customers which can lead to brand loyalty. While numerous organizations have shown a directional shift towards implementing CSR practices, applying meaningful change takes effort and it can be easy for businesses to take a superficial approach and face being labelled as greenwashing or ‘ethics-washing.’
Estée Lauder owns a variety of brands, including MAC cosmetics, and have raised over half a billion dollars for the MAC AIDS fund. Thorpe states that their annual rate of funding is now approximately $50 millions dollars, which make both Estée Lauder and Nancy Mahon real drivers of change in the global fight against AIDS. Their success is echoed through the collaboration of major celebrities, such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, who act as spokesperson virtually for free. Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics and their distributors have made a real commitment to making a difference and this is what separates genuine CSR programs from ones that are seen as greenwashing or ethicswashing.
The task of creating a meaningful CSR program is demanding yet essential. It is imperative that both company executives and HR personnel are committed to CSR so that tangible action can be taken. It is not enough to simply claim that CSR is “connected to the core” of their business strategy, the company must be able to show this through physical means, which could include the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer, support of charities that match their CSR values and etcetera.
Women are making waves in the world of business, but companies need to ensure that they do not lose sight of their core values to direct CSR polices that are conducive to real change. To create genuine change that moves past the superficial, companies must understand the value of an innovative and collaborative company culture. Only then can companies move beyond the superficial.
Image credit: Flickr/WOCinTech Chat
Alice Williams is a communications professional with an MA in Communication Studies. In her spare time, she freelances and blogs about health and wellness over at www.honestlyfitness.com.