“An individual has not started living until he can RISE ABOVE the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
These days we can surely apply Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pearls of wisdom to corporations.The speed and ease at which information travels on the Internet have caused stakeholder to have greater expectations of corporations(Coombs & Holladay, 2012). As the result, the global community has become more knowledgeable, concerned of how business practices affect communities and the world. Corporations are no longer seen as separate from society but an integral part of society with the responsibility to contribute to its welfare and development (Melewar et. al. 2012). The following will discuss corporate responsibility brand theory and concepts by analyzing the brand alignment of Clorox’s Our Commitment to the World web page, Ford Motor Company Outlines Its Top 10 Green Initiatives,and Adobe’s Corporate Governance: Ethics. I will also discuss how volunteerism, community support, global initiatives, green project, sustainability efforts by corporations are important to building customer loyalty, business partner respect, and reputation management.
Clorox, Ford Motor are very clear about how they are making a positive impact on the global community with green initiatives and sustainability strategies. They don’t just say they are doing it, they show how what they are doing is making a difference. Clorox, for instance, specifies how its product is being used to save Oak Trees in California, endangered frogs and California rice fields (Our Commitment, n.d). Ford Motors is all about using recycled products, sustainable fabrics, decreasing gas fumes and producing natural energy just to name a few (RP News Wire, ca. 2008).
Adobe. Honestly, I don’t see how Adobe compares to Clorox and Ford Motor’s corporate communications. I did not find anything on their Corporate Governance: Ethic page that was loud and clear about similar initiatives. Really this page is mainly about how their board of directors drives performance and protects the long-term interests of stockholders. I did some digging in the listed PDF’s on the right side of the page and found one statement in their Corporate Governance Guidelines that stated:
“The board’s primary responsibility is to monitor and assist management in creating long-term value for the company stockholders in an ethical and socially responsible manner” (ASI, ca. 2015).
Sure corporations should protect their financial interest, but I’m not at all sure what Adobe is doing that is socially responsible and what impact they are making.
Brand Theory and Concept: Corporate Responsibility
The simple definition of corporate responsibility is that corporations and organizations meet non-financial expectations of stakeholders (Doorley & Garcia, 2015 ). One idea or concept related to corporate responsibility is that it centered on stakeholder expectations. I can imagine that prior to the information age, stakeholder (which include investors,employees,business partners, suppliers, customers, governments, regulators, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (Doorley & Garcia,2015) expectations were not comparable to what they are now. The activities of businesses abroad and at home are no longer invisible and stakeholders expect corporate responsibility to be the first thought in business practices (Doorley & Garcia, 2015). Another concept is that corporations are also responsible for communicating corporate responsibility by being transparent about their performance whether weak or strong and how they assertive action (Doorley & Garcia, 2015). This is exactly what Ford Motors and Clorox demonstrate on their websites. As I mentioned earlier, I did not get that from Adobe messaging.
Customer Loyalty, Business Partner Respect, and Reputation Management
Retrieved from actionnetwork.org
When stakeholder expectations are not met it threatens the brand’s reputation, which in impacts the brand ability to attract employees,grow its market improve the financial performance or even its ability to continue to operate (Doorley & Garcia, 2015). Nike history is a great example that illustrates the importance of corporate responsibility to building customer loyalty, business partner respect, and reputation management. In its early days, Nike attracted much-unwanted attention from the press, activists, students, government officials and the like in response to allegations of sweatshops, child labor Nike allegations of abusive treatment of foreign workers (Doorley & Garcia, 2015). Nike was boycotted by student activists and government officials in North America and Europe took action to ban sporting apparel that utilized child labor(Doorley & Garcia, 2015). The boycott and international bans are an example of how Nike’s lack of corporate responsibility negatively affected its relationship with customers and business partners.
Today corporations understand the importance of corporate responsibility. A company’s attributions and good deeds (such as volunteerism, community support, global initiatives, green projects, sustainability efforts) make stakeholders feel good and have a positive perception of the organization (Coombs & Holladay, 2012). When an organization does good deeds it develops emotional bonds with stakeholders who have similar interests and creates the desire to support and do business with them( Kaputa, 2012). It also forms a positive perception (or corporate image) of that brand and perception is related to reputation. Good stakeholder perception in most cases equals good brand reputation. Good brand reputation attracts customers, business partners, and customer loyalty.
Retrieved from www.newportarboretum.org
Toms. I’ve known about Toms shoes and how with every purchase they give a pair to someone in need. Just recently my husband came home with a pair for us both. After I checked out their website page at http://www.toms.com/improving-lives, which is all about their efforts beyond giving shoes such as providing clean water, sight safe birthing and anti-bullying for global citizens, I really felt good about having a pair. And when I wear them I am thinking about how I’m helping somebody else out there and that makes me feel good. So now, I’m going to buy a pair for my son and gift them to others, because my perception, or image brand image of Toms, is that this company really cares more about helping others than the bottom line. This is an illustration of how corporate image shapes customer behavior, influences buyer attitude towards a company and invests in a company (Melewar et. al. 2012).
Information is easily shared and accessible to world audiences due to web 2.0. The world has also become smaller and more connected. The importance of being environmentally and socially responsible has become a focal point of stakeholders. Corporations are held to greater expectations of corporate responsibility. They play a tremendous role in the health and wealth of the planet and the people that live on it and are expected to be accountable for their actions and communicate through word and action how they are doing their part to make the world a better place. When corporations meet those expectations of stakeholders, it supports their brand reputation which increases customer loyalty and business partner respect. And truly a corporation cannot rise if it’s just concerned about the numbers and not genuinely conscious of the planet and the people who live on it.
Adobe Systems Incorporated [ASI] (ca. 2015) Adobe governance corporate guidelines. Adobe Systems Incorporated. Retrieved from http://wwwimages.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/corporate-responsibility/pdfs/asi-corporate-governance-guidelines.pdf
Coombs.T. W., Holladay, S. J (2012) The handbook of crisis communication. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Malden, MA
Doorley, J., Garcia, H. F (2015) Reputation Management: The key to successful public relations and corporate communication (3rd ed). New York, N Y: Routledge
Kaputa, C (2012) You are a brand! In person and online, how smart people brand themselves for business success. Nicholas Brealey Publishing Second Edition 2012
Melewar, T,C., Sarstedt, M., Hallier, C. (2012) Corporate identity, image and reputation management: a further analysis. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. Vol. 17 Iss: 1 http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1108/ccij.2012.16817aaa.002
Our Commitment (n.d) Our Commitment. Clorox.com Retrieved from https://www.clorox.com/our-story/our-commitment/
RP News Wire ( ca. 2008)Ford Motor outlines its top ten green initiatives. Reliableplanet.com. Retrieved from http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/5906/green-initiatives-ford
Cover Photo Retrieved from https://www.clorox.com/our-story/our-commitment/