The Problem With Showing Up Empty-Handed.
As our planet experiences a paradigm shift toward the power of informed consumers, customers are more attuned to the values and behaviors of companies as well as the brands behind the products they purchase. They are not afraid to be critical and vocal against those perceived to be insufficiently contributing to society. In this new frontier of global consumerism, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) will become increasingly important to the global consumer environment.
August 21, 2012 | By Tesla Martinez
Somewhere chiseled in etiquette books is a social rule stating that a guest arriving to an intimate dinner gathering at someone’s home should graciously arrive with a simple token of appreciation. After all, the guest is being welcomed into another man’s castle.
Being invited to set up a business venture in another country is really no different. Yet these days it seems many multinationals have completely forgotten their manners in doing business abroad. Unfortunately, many show up empty-handed in hosting nations and then loosen their belt buckles with the intent to fatten up on foreign profits.
A temporary lapse in social refinement and contextual understanding is a perfect way to lose credibility, market share, and/or partners.
In order for multinational companies to achieve and sustain success around the world, it will be important that corporations begin by seeing and acting in the world in a more effective way. And, citizens around the world are waking up to corporate gluttons who just show up for profit.
Remember your manners, bring corporate social responsibility to the table, and take an authentic interest in your hosting nation and local communities. This will lead to immediately and effectively connecting with people, creating goodwill, as well as developing a lasting impression with the broader global consumer.
Hosting nations and global citizens simply want to get to know the values of the companies. What do the companies stand for? What do the companies intend to bring that will contribute to solving problems in their nation? How will companies do business in their nation? How will companies mitigate risks in the hosting nation? Everyone is critically paying close attention, including employees, colleagues, foreign partnerships, national governments and consumers. When properly done, you quickly earn their trust and generate loyalty.
Context really matters. As the old adage goes “Think Global but Act Local.” Show up to the dinner party demonstrating your company’s good and appropriate social graces. Develop an environment of trust and reveal authentic interests in the hosting nation and local communities by discussing and developing a shared vision of expectations and behaviors that will successfully lead to a sustainable license to operate without serious disruptions and better outcomes.
We are witnessing the convergence of changes that disclose both challenges and opportunities occurring in developed and developing nations. While some of the changes are experienced immediately, many changes emerge slowly beneath the surface, remaining concealed due to our preoccupation with the day-to-day operations. However, today’s global consumers are attentive to new visionaries and change agents; to companies using breakthrough technologies and innovative business models; to companies employing the next best practices; and to companies contributing to the improvement of the quality of lives of those living in the hosting nation and local communities.
In order to succeed internationally, multinationals will need to identify CSR programs, platforms, causes and opportunities that support its business model as well as the expectations of their stakeholders. Along the same merit, this effort must resonate in the hearts of local consumers. Inclusive partnerships, i.e. all “franchisees,” must remain aligned and true to the same message. After all, there is a lot of historical data conclusively demonstrating that there is power in numbers.
Take for example the foodservice chain “Crepes and Waffles (C&W)” in Colombia, where many C&W employees are single mothers. The C&W has various programs to help employees purchase their own homes and contribute to their children’s education. This shows a high commitment of the company to the well-being of their employees and the community. Since customers throughout the country know and highly value C&W’s commitment to social responsibility, C&W successfully sustains its consumer support and loyal patronage in Colombia.
Corporate social responsibility is not a one-size-fits-all approach because it is context dependent. There must be a good fit for any CSR initiative to be effective and generate long-lasting value. Successful and sustainable CSR programs and initiatives do not arise automatically. Instead, they require close attention to the immediate and emerging conditions of the hosting nation and local communities, having a local presence, involvement in workforce development and education, and manifesting accountability and transparency. Digitally empowered activist groups and savvy consumers will recognize and inform consumers that unsystematic donations, non-comprehensive sponsorships, and unintegrated programs are superficial window dressing.
Successful multinational companies see and do business in the world a new way. They do not walk into a dinner party empty handed. Rather, they walk in a well-mannered fashion with the intent of becoming integral and collaborative partners in the hosting nation and local communities.
For a complete list of CSR international planning steps and available support, please visit us: http://www.terranovainsights.com/what-we-do/corporate-social-responsibility-intelligence/