We’re living in a divisive time, so it’s understandable that brands may be at a loss on how to approach corporate social responsibility (CSR). While the stakes may be higher, it doesn’t mean brands can — or should — stay silent. In the below Q&A, Tu-Han Phan, Social Impact & Diversity Business Partner at RingCentral, shares why CSR is the smart thing to do, adding in that “if companies don’t take a stance and you don’t tell your own story, someone else may.”
Check out the full Q&A with Tu-Han below!
B2B Marketing Exchange: You’re speaking in the Strategy track this year. What trends are you seeing in the digital strategy space?
Tu-Han Phan: In the digital strategy space, we’re seeing a lot more linkage between human/culture/social aspects of a company and their functions/processes. Market expectations of companies are not that they must be perfect robots anymore — and have good products with strong services and processes. Instead, we’re seeing market trends move toward high expectations of businesses being living, breathing, multi-dimensional organisms with responsible citizenship in the community and edgy brand personalities.
B2BMX: You’ll be speaking about CSR at the event. Can you tell us a little bit about RingCentral’s decision to get serious about CSR?
Phan: CSR is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. As a B2B tech company, we realize we have the power to influence other brands and other businesses to be responsible corporate citizens just like us. As such, it’s our duty to 1) model that and 2) provide opportunities for companies to jump onboard with some of our initiatives. For example, we encourage companies to use our products not just for the sale, but because moving into the cloud means being cleaner and reducing your carbon footprint. We want to use our B2B platform to influence good.
B2BMX: What is your advice for brands that are hesitant to take any public stands?
Phan: If you don’t, someone else will and it’s a missed opportunity for your company to not consider. We’re in a cage match and market expectations are now holding businesses accountable to public affairs, not just private affairs affecting the business world. Businesses are no longer immune to or agnostic of community matters. If companies don’t take a stance and you don’t tell your own story, someone else may. We saw SoulCycle unravel when news leaked that they supported the Trump campaign — had SoulCycle owned it and told their own story, the backlash may have been different.
B2BMX: What else can you share about your presentation? What is one main takeaway you want your audience to go back to their office with?
Phan: When it comes to CSR, some critics say that it’s a more influential lever with individual consumers, but not businesses. Treating businesses like machines and robots with no personalities is the biggest mistake you can make in CSR marketing. Since we are in the B2B space, it makes our CSR lives more straightforward and simpler. Businesses are much easier to predict than a large mass of consumers. Business decision-making and processes are also much more outlined than the human brain and individual consumerism. Market to businesses in this fashion.
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