Today is the 41st International World Vegetarian Day. That’s all well and good. But what does all this have to do with PR and communications?
Numerous scientific study results prove it: Vegetarianism is sustainable. For health, ecological, socio-political and ethical reasons. "Vegetarians create jobs, smell less, have better sex, save the climate", write Anne Lehwald and Simone Ullmann in their entertaining book "11 reasons to be vegetarian".
In companies, the missionization of employees to give up meat does not play a role, but sustainable management is becoming more and more important. An increasing number of companies are voluntarily assuming responsibility for social, ecological and economic concerns. All measures, concepts and strategies that go in this direction fall under the term CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility. And everything that the public notices is part of PR.
Focus on the common good
Companies that focus on CSR look beyond the boundaries of sales and sales targets. They see themselves as part of society and the environment. CSR gives companies and employees the opportunity to pursue social goals and thus set standards. It means responsible entrepreneurship, especially where there is no state control or obligation. In concrete terms, this means, for example, fair business practices, an employee-oriented personnel policy, the economical use of natural resources, the protection of climate and environment, serious local commitment and responsibility in the supply chain.
Anyone wishing to browse through instructions on implementation can choose from various internationally recognised reference documents, such as the ILO Declaration of Principles on Business and Social Policy, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact or ISO 26000.
Diverse and colourful
The spectrum of CSR measures is broad. There are many possible actions, such as fundraising campaigns, individual part-time offers, teleworking, company childcare, energy conservation, supplier management, sustainable fleet, route and raw materials management and fair trade. These measures are examples for a strategic CSR approach and companies cannot implement all at the same time. At least not overnight.
Transparent and authentic
The CSR measures of a company should follow an individual strategy concept and the goals defined should be in line with the goals of the corporate strategy. If there is a lack of structure and no strategic CSR approach, the measures often cannot be communicated transparently and used to develop one's own image. With false modesty or too much understatement, the opportunity is missed to use CSR activities in corporate communication. External service providers offer support here. They advise companies on CSR campaigns. The assignment of an expert agency promises sustainable success and a positive image development.
But beware! Understanding CSR only as part of PR and marketing is not enough. The public quickly notices who lives genuine corporate responsibility or who only wants to attract attention on the short term. CSR must be authentic and credible.
World Vegetarian Day is a good occasion for CSR. Perhaps even for sausage- and meat-processing companies. For example, when on October 1st there are exceptionally only vegetarian sausages on display...
Sabine Hensold has been a vegetarian for many years herself. She wants both enterprises and individuals to be conscious of their social responsibility and to put their own needs behind the well-being of the community from time to time.