Why we need to take the corporate out of corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) sounds so… well, corporate. It implies that it’s something only large corporations need, have the resources to develop or that you have to solve complex issues for it to be worthy. The reality is that every business of every size has a social responsibility to its stakeholders and the world. Sometimes the simplest goals can make the biggest impact. The more we can simplify this idea of CSR and showcase examples of how real estate leaders are applying it to their business, the more brokerages and real estate companies will be inspired to get started.
Instead of CSR, I encourage companies to develop a Giving Program or a Social Impact Strategy, because there’s nothing corporate about reminding people about their humanity.
Here are a few ways to know if a Giving Program is right for you and your business:
You’re a brokerage owner who wants to make a positive impact on your community and the world.
You want to do good, but don’t have a huge budget or a big team.
You let your agents do their own giving but have always wanted to focus the brokerage giving efforts.
You want to increase audience engagement and positive brand recognition.
You want to find the perfect nonprofit partners with whom to work.
A recent APCO survey found that 90 percent of consumers expect brands to take a stand on issues affecting the world, and the best companies serve society as a whole, not just their customers. Consumers are inspired by it and more willing to support and buy products from that brand. Another study ranked the companies with the best reputation for social responsibility. Is it a surprise that there weren’t any real estate companies on the list? Almost every brokerage donates here and there, but most lack the kind of strategy that can maximize impact or leverage these efforts for business.
Opportunity for Brokerages
There is a massive opportunity for brokerage owners to play a more active role in social responsibility, inclusive of fundraising, volunteerism, advocacy and both internal- and consumer-facing strategies. In fact, they are positioned perfectly for it. As local experts, brokerage owners can help identify community issues, they can get key players in a room to discuss ideas and solutions, and they have a network of people who can help drive their initiatives.
Many leaders are unable to see the long-term business benefits of a strategic giving or social impact program—the kind that leads to enhancing culture, aiding recruitment and connecting with consumers on a deeper level.
Brokerages are clawing to be the best tech or the best luxury companies, but how many are racing to be the most socially conscious, the most diverse, or the loudest advocates for affordable housing? If you want to build trust and stay relevant with the conscious consumers of today, social responsibility is the place to start, and it requires leaders with a more enlightened way of doing business. Not everyone is there yet. That’s OK. We’ll get there.
It can seem overwhelming, trying to add this layer of goodness on top of running a brokerage, and it’s easy to stick to what you've been doing year after year. But the best-giving programs are aligned with your business goals, connect you with the right partners and engage your audience, all while enhancing your brand with goodwill. They’re strategic.
I believe in making your reasons better than your excuses. Here are a few reasons why you should create a giving program:
Giving Programs, Social Impact Strategies, CSR—these things are not a trend. They are here to stay and five years from now you will have wished you started it 10 years ago.
Think small. Your giving program doesn’t have to be this giant, world-changing idea. It will still have a big impact.
A focused strategy doesn’t take a huge budget or a lot of time—it’s about consistent actions.
You will help create a legacy bigger than you or your brokerage while making a positive impact on the world.
Does your brokerage have a positive influence on society? If yes, fantastic, how can it be better? If no, no worries, but let’s get it started today!