Internet, Tech Firms and Corporate Social Responsibility
Ryan Buddenhagen, April 27, 2012
Businesses across industries have become more interested in corporate social responsibility (CSR) over the past decade than in any time previously. What constitutes CSR varies but it generally covers the equitable operation and often the "giving back" from businesses. To mitigate harmful impact to the environment and the wellbeing of the communities impacted by a business' operations, it can make conscious choices as to the way they source materials, manufacture their goods or deliver their services, the way they treat their employees, and interact with local or impacted communities.
Businesses have various stakeholders that are impacted by their functioning and the more they factor these different parties into their work, the more likely they will be responsible in their operation. Different industries present different opportunities though for such responsible action. Further, equitable choices can have varying levels of impact on a company's bottom-line, and given the industry, the size of the company, its level of success, and whether it is publically held with shareholder interest, there are very different elements in play from business to business for incorporating CSR.
With that said, CSR is seen more in larger companies that have a supply chain for example that they make sure is sustainable in all facets, but less in technology companies in general, specifically agencies selling information or internet services. This, I would argue is unfortunate, but it presents an opportunity for companies to set themselves apart. Tech firms that manufacture goods, like Apple for example are not included in this, but other companies that offer cloud services, app developers, and SEO companies delivering internet marketing services are examples of those that could take this on and blaze a new path.
What CSR Looks Like for Tech-Internet Solutions Companies
So the question is how does a solutions-based services company integrate responsible action into their operations? Besides equitable employee treatment down the line from in-house staff to outsourced talent, such companies can "give back" in ways that relate to the services they provide and the work that they do. Google, is the leader in search, and although they are diversifying now having their hand in TVs and the mobile market, they are a search provider first and foremost. So looking at their recent actions offers some insight.
Through its Google Cultural institute, Google supported the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive project with an initial $1.25 million grant to get the multimedia project off the ground. Housed within the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, the project is a work-in-progress but once fully completed will document though written works, photographs, and video imagery the life and work of the former South African president, anti-apartheid activist, and human rights advocate. The project stands as an example of how a tech business can take action beyond what is required of them and "give back" in a way that relates to their industry.
The most compelling examples are when businesses work the extra benefit they create into their operations such as every time a certain service is used, a certain responsible action is taken. Additionally, SEO companies have the particular opportunity to work with a nonprofit of interest to offer assistance with their web presence. With that said, businesses need to be in a solid position before they can take such action so as to not put them at a disadvantage financially.
Reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and @ryanwbudd regarding how tech firms can incorporate CSR into their operations and further, how SEO can improve the online exposure your company receives.