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Using Corporate Innovation Responsibility to Boost Your Business’ Social Impact

Business' Social Impact

There’s been a tremendous recent emphasis on how businesses should help the societies in which they operate. That push led to the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which emphasizes how companies should use their resources for the greater good. A new, similar concept known as corporate social innovation, or CIR, tasks enterprises with using their capabilities to engage with the public and solve problems. 

This post will examine what CIR entails, and how you can implement it at your company. 

What Is Corporate Innovation Responsibility?

The basis of CIR is that companies have an obligation to put some of their finances toward innovations to help the public. CIR is very similar to corporate social innovation. But, India, in particular, defines it differently and incorporates it into the nation’s laws. 

India requires businesses that meet a specific profit margin to spend at least 2% of their annual profits on CSR. However, in September 2019, the country’s government widened the scope of CSR to include money given to tech incubators. That’s when the CSI definition gained prominence.

These more extensive efforts can span into investments for fields like science and technology, as long as the efforts of the receiving organization support India’s sustainable development goals. Some analysts say this transition has turned CSR into corporate innovation responsibility. 

So far, most other nations have not officially defined CIR like India has. However, many companies are still making decisions that easily fall under the CIR umbrella.  For example, Bridgestone, the brand known for its tires, announced a new Global Innovation Park, which will initially be in Kodaira, Japan. In addition to restructuring the facilities there, the brand plans to open four new facilities. 

The Global Innovation Park will be a testing ground for numerous advancements that focus on helping society members stay mobile. One of the sections of the facility is barrier-free to promote inclusivity for people with differing abilities. Then, in Brazil, some people in the business community want to focus on using innovations to spark positive changes in both the corporate world and broader society. 

How Can Businesses Get on Board With CIR?

CIR done right can have a long-lasting impact on a firm’s customers, partners and employees. What should businesses do if they want to embrace CIR? 

One smart step to take is for businesses to partner with environmentally friendly corporations. Anja Manuel, a leading expert on how to move into international markets, emphasizes creating a culture of global technological progress through cooperation. In a TED Talk, Manuel discussed how China is focusing on innovation, but in ways different than those in the West. 

However, some of China’s methods are valuable for other nations to mimic.  For example, it’s rapidly investing in tech companies from the United States and giving students more access to high-quality science and technology educations. Making progress in CIR may mean working with sustainable companies doing business abroad, but it could also require staying tuned to innovations occurring domestically. 

If company leaders aren’t ready to directly collaborate with companies that are leading the way in societal changes, they can support the efforts of those firms through financial investments. For example, in 2018, the Asia-Pacific region was the leading investor in solar-powered innovations. Environmental sustainability will undoubtedly continue to be a crucial issue, particularly with the spotlight on climate change mitigation. 

Environmental sustainability is not the only facet of CIR. But, if you consider how the state of the planet has such a significant impact on things like the food supply, wildlife and weather patterns, it’s arguably foolish to overlook the environment in any CIR plan.

Another opportunity to integrate CIR at a company is to sponsor a hackathon. One such event at Stanford University tasked students with tackling environmental issues in 31 hours. No matter how you choose to devote time and talent to CIR goals, remember not to see CSR and CIR as distinctly separate. They can and should influence each other by informing what your company does to help others and the planet.

View CIR as a Methodical Process

Some companies receive scrutiny if it appears they have only adopted CIR to capitalize on the trend of customers expecting brands to positively affect the world with their resources. As your enterprise explores how and when to implement CIR, aim to avoid that pitfall.

Although CSR and CIR differ, they both should be authentic, and the public should get the impression that your company is engaging in these related practices thoughtfully, and for the right reasons. Whether you own a business, specifically oversee corporate sustainability or are in some other position of power, be strategic about how you move forward with CIR. 

It’s preferable to take part in a slow and purposeful process, instead of one that happens too quickly and appears to lack authenticity. Finally, encourage everyone at the company to play their part in making CIR happen. As we discussed earlier, adequate CIR may require collaborating with companies operating elsewhere. However, collaboration can start from within, and teamwork can amplify efforts.

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