A red phone and the importance of corporate social responsibility

2017 marks a historic year for Apple. Not only did the new iPhone 7 contribute to the peak of Apple’s smartphone sales, a market segment that investors feel is flooded and that Apple relies too heavily on. But this year the company celebrates it’s 10-year anniversary with (Red), Bono’s organization that is dedicated to the eradication of AIDS. Apple is solely responsible for over $130 of the $465+ million that (Red) has raised since 2006. As a special tribute to their relationship, Apple has recently unveiled the iPhone 7 in red-a stark contrast from their typical color offering. The philanthropic effort in business, especially tech companies, is nothing new. In fact, as of the last decade, over 70% of companies surveyed by MIT demonstrated some level of CSR efforts.  

Maybe you own a small or medium-sized business and you don’t have an entire department dedicated to CSR, maybe this post is the first time you’ve heard of corporate social responsibility.

Is it something that you should engage in?

Will it help your company innovate and drive sustainable practices?

Does it count if your efforts only effect your immediate community?

Will it benefit you if you don’t publicly announce your CSR?


To look at a larger-scale case study, in 2008, Wal-Mart rebranded itself as an environmental leader. Yea, Wal-mart. The admitted motive was not necessarily that the board members turned over a new leaf. Rather, market research showed a distinct connection between “good” or honorable marketing messaging and more accessible communications with B2B customers.  

It feels good and it may open a few more doors but from big biz to mom-and-pop, ROI matters. Insurance giant, Aflac, wanted some hard facts so they partnered with Fleishman Hillard Research to survey 1,400 consumers from college students to corporate executives and came up with the following results:

·         75% of consumers are likely to take some negative action toward irresponsible companies—everything from social media postings to organizing boycotts. 

·         A company that is seen as not responsible stands to lose as much as 39% of its potential customer base, and 1 in 4 consumers will tell their friends and family to avoid a company seen as not being responsible.

·         83% of professional investors are more inclined to invest in stock of a company well-known for its social responsibility, viewing such initiatives as an indicator of greater transparency and honesty in operations and financial reporting, resulting in lower risk.

·         79% of full- or part-time employed consumers believe their own employer is socially responsible, but only 41% believe all American companies are responsible.

Ready to start? You don’t need to start your own charitable organization. Nor do you need to find a cause that perfectly parallels your company’s policies or product offering. Simply start somewhere.

Start at (Red). Donate as little as the price of lunch or as much as a car payment.

Tim Doerfler