Valentine’s Day is a Fantastic Opportunity for Stakeholder Engagement


Valentine’s Day has had a long history, and for centuries has been celebrated as the day of romantic love. It’s been referred in several literary works through the centuries, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the Middle Ages, people exchanged hand-made paper cards as tokens of love. Since 1913, when Hallmark started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards, it has never been the same. Last year, Valentine’s Day sales reached around $18.6 billion, which is a far cry from hand-made cards.

Now however, with sustainability as the watch-word, everybody is trying to show a little love by going green. A simple Google search will inform you all about the green products out there including Fairtrade chocolate and sustainable greeting cards. Although Valentine’s Day does not have a lot of corporate connotations, it is a fantastic opportunity for companies to do some stakeholder engagement.

1) Use the Good Mood: With several people in good mood and on the look-out for a perfect gift, companies can become more creative with their CSR agenda. It may well become one of the top days for corporate volunteering. Volunteering will not only increase the feel-good feeling but will also give the singles an opportunity to share in the spirit of things.
2) Reinforce Your Brand: Companies producing eco-friendly products, Fairtrade chocolate, and other sustainable Valentine’s goodies could benefit by reinforcing this brand image by promoting sustainability. This is also a good opportunities for businesses like restaurants, florists, jewellers, vineyards, tour companies, and even online dating sites to show what they’re doing to love the planet.
3) Show Some Love: Find creative ways to tell your customers you value their custom. Have an internal event to tell your employees that you appreciate their work ethic. Have community engagement projects to engage with the people who benefit from your business presence.
There are several companies that are doing all this as part of their CSR but Valentine’s Day is special. Innocent Smoothies, started its initiative called the Big Knit in 2003 to help elderly people stay warm in winter. This initiative is a fantastic example of using all three of the above points to come up with a CSR program that really grabs your stakeholders.
At the end of the day, Valentine’s Day need not just be a ‘couples only’ event. With a little imagination and fore-thought, companies can turn this day of love into something that is memorable and enjoyable.

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Why CSR is Greater than the Sum of its Parts?

Combining the three parts of social equity, environmental responsibility and corporate profit, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important concept in today’s business climate. These CSR elements are also known by the catchy phrases “people, planet, profit” or “triple bottom line.” Auditing these components and creating an integrated plan to improve and capitalize on them, brings tremendous marketplace gains for a business. Not only are these three pieces of the CSR puzzle inseparable, but with positive feedback mechanisms, they also create a sum benefit much greater than any one of the parts.

People

If customers and employees are treated as important partners in a mutually beneficial business relationship, business profitability becomes much more sustainable over the long-term. Healthy, satisfied customers are loyal customers that will continue to return to the business. A safe, healthy and environmentally friendly workplace for employees causes them to take fewer sick days and stay with the company longer, allowing fewer work delays and decreasing turnover and training costs. By organizing and participating in social charity work, a business enhances name recognition, positive reputation and essential public relations value.

Planet

Corporate environmental sensitivity ensures the health and safety of customers, employees and a sustainable supply of natural resources. For example, reducing toxins and petrochemicals may not only lower manufacturing costs but also reduce risk management and employee insurance costs. Increasing efficiency in terms of water, energy and material use directly impacts the environmental footprint of a business, which alone has great marketing value, but also allows for a reliable supply of resources or expanded operations based on the same resource flow. Ecological restoration projects can have significant marketable offset value and can sometimes even provide ecosystem services to business operations.

Profit

Ensuring social equity and environmental integrity impact present bottom line profits and maintain longevity of profits. Efficiency measures, resource use reduction, employee health and safety and CSR marketing initiatives can reduce costs and improve brand value. Long-term business stability is sustained by preserving customer and supply chain viability through natural resource protection, customer loyalty and positive brand management opportunities. In turn, a more profitable business is able to spend more capital on social and environmental programs, which cycles back into profitability.

The inseparable nature of CSR components creates positive and integrated feedback mechanisms that sustain global business, environment and society. A systemized approach to people, planet and profit is one of the most important tools that a business can use to succeed today.