What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
CSR is the way in which an organisation integrates social, environmental, and economic concerns into their company culture. As stated on the UK Gov website, ’“to be considered as socially responsible, a company’s activities should benefit.” CSR focuses on accountability, transparency and responsibility, and establishes trust and good faith between a company and its community. CSR includes topics such as company health and safety procedures, commitment to human rights, environmental concerns, and community involvement. The specific commitments and implications a company chooses to incorporate will vary depending on a range of factors such as their industry, company size, products or services sold, or location.
Not only is CSR beneficial for strengthening company image, but it has additional benefits such as driving revenue by drawing in new clients and organisational success because the company’s community is supported and operating in a healthy manner. Regardless of if a company chooses to implement these sustainable practices for financial based result or genuine concern, there is a growing consensus that CSR is related to organisational success. However, it is important to be cautious of virtue signalling, which is “the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one’s awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, especially instead of taking effective action.” This means not claiming how great your CSR practices are when they are not.
Why is it important for arts organisations to utilise digital platforms for communicating their CSR practices?
The arts have always been intertwined with social justice issues, with artists speaking out in 1987 over the AIDS epidemic with “Silence = Death” posters. So, it is not an issue of incorporating CSR practices into arts organisations’ company structure, but rather how to employ digital platforms to better promote them.
In 2023, there are estimated to be 4.9 billion social media users and 7.33 billion mobile device users across the globe. These comprehensive networks are invaluable tools for organisations, and should be taken advantage of in the digital era. They foster global connection and reach; tracking of competition, consumer response and engagement; and communication of up-to-date news and activity. Not to mention, as the buying power of Generations Y and Z grows, organisations must adapt and find ways to appeal to these consumers who are typically more tech savvy, and for whom social media is second nature to them.
As modern technology increasingly makes it easy to find information across channels, it is becoming more important that companies handle internal communication as well as external media attention. Consumers are no longer relying on the information a company releases, but are rather turning to digital platforms to search for information and public opinion on products and services.
This means that arts organisations must strengthen their web-based presence and communication, as well as their social media presence. When it comes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity commitments, usability and accessibility are key. This information should be easily accessible and advertised across digital platforms– website, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Gen Z have more inclusive expectations and views and therefore are more willing to support organisations that promote and stand by their commitments. This means organisations will be more likely to attract a wider audience that is more loyal, but also more committed employees, volunteers, and donors.
Examples of arts organisations showcasing their CSR practices well
In the digital age, one of the greatest strengths of the Internet is the engagement between the public and the organisation.
Arts organisations’ websites should be accessible and simple to navigate, with clear user journeys. It should be easy for customers to find CSR information, and this information should be consistent with the organisation’s tone of voice. That is not to say that organisations can say whatever they want with no intention of committing. This is known as virtue signalling, as mentioned earlier, and it is deceptive and insincere.
Here are some examples of organisations that do this well:
Throughout their website and Instagram, Tate does an excellent job highlighting their commitments to diversity, equality and inclusivity. These statements are backed up by clear and accessible action: it is apparent that their commitments are not empty handed as they house collections such as, black identities and art, disability and art, queer lives and art, immigration and art, and more. Tate’s social responsibility is easy to find on their website under the “About Us” category, and holds details about their commitments, their collaboration with charities, as well as information on socially engaged art practices.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is another prominent arts organisation that does a great job applying digital platforms to promote their CSR commitments. They use their digital and social channels to amplify voices that they are working with and they have a range of artists they collaborate with such as influencer and activist Sophie Williams and barrister and author Mohisin Zaidi.
EY and the Arts
This is not an arts organisation but they are still committed to bettering the arts, EY has multiple CSR practices that support the art’s welfare. They believe that the arts have a significant role to play in the prosperity of the UK, such as driving creativity, innovation and connection, so they want to aid this positive impact. Ever since, 1994 EY has held the title of longest standing corporate supporters of the arts, and in 2013 they launched EY Tate Arts Partnership. This includes the sponsorship of exhibitions, knowledge and expertise sharing. All of this information can be easily accessed on their website.
Good Chance Theatre
Good Chance is a “theatre of hope” that looks to create connections and spark conversation about global social issues. They aim to raise awareness, inspire, welcome, disrupt, and create stories about global challenges. Furthermore, they believe that the world is divided and seek to bring back the true meaning of theatre: “to connect, unite and reclaim our individual and collective narratives.” Their digital presence reflects their mission, and their Instagram features lessons on global issues and inside scoops on their projects.
Angel Shed is a performing arts charity that welcomes children and young people to teach them the power of performing arts. They aim to provide a safe place where their members feel confident to grow, express themselves, and embrace curiosity. Angel Shed has a range of performing arts activities that are impactful for young children and positively impact their mental health, confidence, and overall wellbeing. They have all their information easily accessible on their website and utilise their digital marketing to further promote their performances and encourage people to get involved.
Here are a few tips to better promote your organisation’s CSR practices across digital platforms. The arts are often recognised for their activism and social awareness, so it’s time to highlight this social responsibility so audiences know about all the great things your organisation does. Don’t forget, the key is to make sure you have consistency across digital platforms and authentic and transparent communication.