What is corporate social responsibility? When I think of CSR, I immediately think of companies like TOMS. For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates a pair to children in need. This idea is five things: creative, active, consistent, globally impactful and tangible. TOMS has done a great job implementing CSR into its business model; however, some companies need a little bit more help in that department.
Take Monsanto, for example. Monsanto is one of the world’s leading agriculture companies, possessing over 400 facilities in 66 different countries. Monsanto employs just over 21,000 people worldwide. While it is a hugely successful company, Monsanto’s name has been tainted by less-than-ethical business practices. Part of Monsanto’s damaged reputation is because its non-existent corporate social responsibility tactic. “Sustainability” is used by Monsanto president, Hugh Grant, as the company’s corporate social responsibility. What is lacking here is action. Monsanto should look at the core pillars of TOMS’ CSR plan. Creativity, consistency, global impact and tangibility all contribute in making a company socially responsible.
In order to be viewed as a socially responsible company, Monsanto should consider implementing a plan to better the community creatively. Since Monsanto is such giant agricultural corporation, its corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan should better the planet agriculturally; this just makes sense. Not to mention the fact that one of the things going against its reputation is the damage Monsanto is inflicting on the environment with its production practices. Using resources in a creative way will help Monsanto stand out as a socially responsible company, ultimately improving its reputation.
If I represented Monsanto, the first thing I would do is propose a CSR plan to kickstart a reputation makeover. Monsanto has so many resources immediately available to it that could potentially benefit the entire planet. I think that it should take advantage of these resources to attack a worldly conflict; specifically, a conflict that it contributes to, e.g. deteriorating rain forests. A plan of attack that Monsanto could implement in this case could be “Preserve the Amazon Rain Forests.” In this case, the company would dedicate a certain amount of funds to put toward preservation of the Amazon rain forests. This plan would make a global impact and start shining Monsanto’s name in a new light. For a CSR plan this broad, specific mini-plans are crucial to actually show growth in the program. This campaign would be a great way to spearhead CSR for Monsanto, but in order to be a truly socially responsible company, a “one-and-done” kind of CSR plan shouldn’t be the only action taken.
Consistency is key here. For example, TOMS didn’t just donate a million pairs of shoes and call it quits. They continue to donate shoes every time someone purchases a pair. Monsanto should be consistent with its efforts to improve the well being of the community as a whole. Perhaps Monsanto could involve several of its brands in mirroring TOMS’ idea of donating based on sales. For example, for every number of seeds sold, Monsanto could donate a corresponding amount of seeds to starving communities in third world countries. Seed packages will vary in corn, wheat, soybean and sugar cane. This will help attack the world hunger epidemic and is tangible (meaning we can directly see results). Along with the seeds, a team of Monsanto employees or volunteers will not only deliver the seeds to individual communities, but they will plant them. A plan like this would be sustainable and could potentially make a global impact.
For more information on corporate social responsibility, check out TOMS’ website at: http://www.toms.com/one-for-one-en
*Images courtesy of toms.com