Social responsibility for a company means both improving the lives of its employees and improving the environment and society. Modern industries no longer have the luxury of carelessly harming the environment and denying Human Rights without a negative impact on their image and their sales. A study of 10 different countries by the public relations and marketing firm Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 90% of consumers said they would boycott socially irresponsible businesses and that 53% have boycotted a product in the past year.
The Biggest Consumer Concerns
Social media is playing a major part in the rise of corporate social responsibility. Anyone can share information about any company with anyone in the world and roughly a third of social media users do share information about companies. It is much more difficult to hide a scandal than it was in the past. The top social issues that consumers care about are:
- Human Rights
- Extreme Poverty
- The Environment
Human rights activists and charities can be found all over the internet and the media. Companies that profit from exploiting children, women and poverty are publicly shamed. Increasingly, laws are written against socially irresponsible companies to disrupt their sales and operations in countries with higher expectations of Human rights.
The Global Exchange Top 10 Corporate Criminals List is typical of the response of human rights and environmental activists to companies that seek profit without any interest in human welfare or the future of the world.
How Social Responsibility Effects the Travel Industry
The travel industry crosses country lines, but if you exploit the lower wages, lack of human rights, or the environment, your company will develop a bad image that can last for several decades. For example, exploiting women or children for sexual slavery or prostitution in extreme poverty may sell tickets to wealthy and lustful men, but no family can vacation there. The terrible human rights reputation will frighten families that want to protect their children from predators, and other socially conscious consumers will turn their nose up at a socially irresponsible company. That is only one example, but assume that destroying your employees and the environment will damage your profits and your company image for years to come.
William Doonan is a tax law and legal expert.