What if your only goal is making profit?

Have you noticed how almost every brand nowadays is jumping on the socially responsible bandwagon?

Social responsibility has become a buzzword in the business world, to the point where its significance may have been diluted and we now view it as just another mandatory trend.

But I can’t help but wonder, do the brands actually have any other choice?

Is having your brand being linked to a greater cause can only lead to benefits?

First of all, brands that are socially responsible showcase this through practices, operation adaptations, internal processes, but most importantly and most often through campaigns.

Oh come on! Even if it’s JUST through a very public campaign on which they’ve spent a great amount of resources, it’s called raising awareness. Look it up!

Well, here comes the potential problem with this new direction in running business and building a brand.

See, this is like getting all dressed up, putting on your fancy dress and flawless makeup to go to a charity event.

You are going to this event and you want everyone to know, ofc, with the intention that you will inspire someone to start donating etc.

But, you actually just pose there all dolled up, without spending a buck or effort towards the actual cause.

Now, when a company does this it is called “Social Washing”, but since we already got familiar with this social responsibility norm that businesses are following, let’s say we collectively got more “skilled” in detecting it.

While being a genuinely socially responsible company that has implemented and improved internal and external processes and practices is impressive, the superficial attempts at social responsibility can really harm the business in numerous ways, from losing customer loyalty to lowering employee morale.

So, it's crucial to walk the talk if you want to reap its benefits.

Let’s see how that can happen:

Brand Erosion

Nothing kills the brand that you’ve worked so hard to build then social washing.

We all are becoming increasingly conscious of social and environmental issues and we are likely to see through insincere or half-hearted attempts at addressing these issues.

When people see this type of behavior from their favorite brand wow do they feel betrayed.

If you’ve got to this point, you can forget about brand loyalty and retention.

I think we all are aware what this means irl.

Financial losses

This is the most obvious one, starting from the resources  invested in “painting” this “we are really aware, socially responsible company” picture.

Also this often leads to legal fees if you don’t pay attention before you start.

What about the money spent on reputational damage control?

Competitive disadvantage

People are increasingly looking to support businesses that align with their values, and if your business is seen as insincere or disingenuous, you may lose out to competitors who are more authentic in their social and environmental commitments.

Employee dissatisfaction

Employees may feel disillusioned and disengaged if they discover that their company is engaging in social washing.
This can lead to high turnover rates, difficulty in attracting talent, and a negative workplace culture. Plus you never know whether your social awareness was a deciding factor for someone to work at your company.

In conclusion, superficial attempts at social responsibility can damage your company on every level, from branding to employee morale. 
So not striving to save the world or even contributing with your product/service or processes it’s just FINE. 

It's crucial your brand  to be genuine and authentic in their efforts to make a positive impact on society and the environment. 

If you are not willing or able to do the work, then they should focus on other aspects of their brand and leave the social responsibility to those who are genuinely committed to making a difference. 

Also it’s better to focus your resources and time to actually transform your company in a way that will be actually contributing towards a better world, no matter how small that effort is, than to fake it.

Just not worth the risk.