- Knowing the social responsibility position of the vendors you do business with is important; what they do can reflect on you as their customer.
- Keep an open mind and do your research; a vendor that aligns with your organization’s ethos and goals will help ensure a better relationship.
Corporate Social Responsibility – Keep It Real
Increasingly, customers are considering the social position of vendors from which they want to buy. Who you buy from reflects on the ethos of your company as well. Nobody wants to be doing business with a vendor perceived as evil or greedy. Therefore, many companies will not publicly reveal which vendors they use internally. The social position of your vendor is probably not even in the top ten requirements, but it should factor in somewhere. If you really want to partner with a vendor, your corporate ethos and attitudes should be at least roughly in the same direction.
Companies are doing more corporate social responsibility, which is corporate-speak for things like charitable donations, employee-led volunteering programs, and even mental health programs for employees. In short, companies have come to realize that making billions of dollars a quarter in profit and not giving back is not a good idea, let alone a good look.
The initial reaction to announcements about corporate social responsibility is happiness, followed by some quick doubt about the corporate motive. It’s easy to think that these moves are purely derived from a need to improve a company’s image rather than an actual charitable act by the company.
There are a couple of things you should look for when considering the social position of a potential vendor: Do they practice what they preach? For instance, do they give to green causes and then pollute extensively in other parts of the world? Do they promote workplace equality but regularly do business with oppressive regimes?
Lastly, and probably most importantly, unclench a bit and be open to the idea that it’s not a sham. We are in the middle of an era with unprecedented access to information… and the disinformation that goes with it. This makes us untrusting and cynical, especially about the motivations of those selling goods and services. Keep an open mind and research what these companies do to give back, both to the community and to their employees.