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BEST PRACTICE: Taking responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a hotter topic than ever for marketers. Its rise on the corporate agenda has been prolific as demonstrated in the consumer space by the media's constant hawking of the ethical policies of retail and supermarket superpowers.

But away from the glare of the media spotlight, how are B2B brands ensuring they do their bit for society? You might think that because business brands tend not to have such a wide-reaching audience they can get away with doing less. But this isn't the case. In fact, for many B2B brands, a CSR policy is part of a key survival strategy, not least because their own business customers are under obligation to ensure they ethically source services and products. As Joanna Daniels, deputy director of Business in the Community's marketplace programme, says, “If two companies offer similar services but only one can demonstrate it's having a positive effect on society, that company will have the overall advantage.”

So what should a good CSR strategy include? According to Dorothy Mackenzie, chairman of brand agency Dragon, there is no right answer. Rather, companies must identify what their own impact on society is and tailor a programme from there. “Companies must understand what their impacts are – on society, the environment, and individuals – and avoid creating unnecessary and unintentional damage,” she explains.