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InsideFMM | August 1, 2014

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How Fashion Brands Can Ensure Corporate Social Responsibility

eco-friendlyCorporate social responsibility (CSR) has enormous of benefits for companies, and it’s currently making headwaves in the fashion industry — reforms which are long overdue. But how, exactly, is corporate social responsibility related to the real life practices of your brand or company?

First of all, let’s look at the term itself – “Corporate social responsibility.” What does it mean?  Well, CSR asserts that organizations, companies, and individuals should try to minimize negative outcomes and maximize positive outcomes — human and environmental impacts that cover all aspects of production, consumption, labor, and so on.  That means stockholders, manufacturers, customers, distributors, packaging, materials, etc. are all taken into consideration.

Yes, it can be quite challenging to monitor, adapt to, and respond to so many demands and obligations, but it’s well worth it.  Not only is it ethical and helps you treat people and nature fairly and respectfully, but it is also just good business sense.  Nowadays, customers are attracted to companies and brands that are socially responsible.  Take, for instance, the green fashion movement.  While it was once dismissed as a trend, it’s ability to stick around for so many years has proven that people want to do good and buy good.

Organic Exchange (OE)’s Organic Cotton Market Report sheds some positive light on green fashion’s growth; for instance, organic cotton apparel and textiles have grown enormously in 2009 — $1 billion’s worth, in fact.  And it is not just the small, independent companies who are helping green fashion grow.  Big brands like Nike & Adidas have also joined in on green fashion.

Not to be forgotten is the “social” aspect of corporate social responsibility.  This means treating employees, customers, and others fairly, and it might also mean giving back to your community such as charity fundraising.  Transparency and openness — that is,  allowing people access to information about your company’s impacts, behavior, and initiatives — is also a key point.

So, while corporate social responsibility can be, well, quite a responsibility, don’t fret or think you have to do everything all at once.  Small steps can be quite helpful in making your business more and more responsible for its actions.  For smaller brands and companies, CSR is easily something you can build into your business — ensuring long term growth and benefits.