Corporate Social Responsibility Ideas for Homeopathic Manufactures of All Sizes

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By Alissa Gould, Boiron USA, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has ever-evolving goals due to changing current affairs and global issues that arise. However, it’s good business practice to invest time or funding in some form of CSR program, especially given the passionate and well-educated nature of homeopathic users. Retailers too are more frequently dispatching questionnaires to gage our companies as suitable suppliers. This article hopes to inspire ideas for both small and large companies to develop CSR programs.

CSR is generally broken into four categories:

  1. Environmental Responsibility

Three months prior to this article, AAHP published the following good sources for environmental issues and homeopathic manufacturers in its February 2024 newsletter.

Improving Your Environmental Reputation

Sustainable Packaging: Considerations for Homeopathic Manufacturers

Homeopathic Medicines: Good for the Body and Good for the Environment

2. Ethical/Human Rights Responsibility

This is a very broad category, but it comes down to the treatment of people. Efforts could range from global initiatives (like preventing your business from contributing to child labor) to local actions (such as providing a safe workplace for your staff).

This category also aligns closely with homeopathic medicine being a more humane and respectful therapy, and therefore it's a good CSR choice in which to invest for companies with limited resources.

Below are some basics for ethical and fair treatment of staff for all companies as well as easier-to-implement ideas for small companies. When avoidable distractions are eliminated, staff are more productive. Furthermore, certain CSR initiatives listed below can be easily measured and can be publicly disclosed to enhance a company's reputation. Examples include the average years of staff employment, which reflects low turnover; the percentage of staff who have received training; and the ratio of women in management positions.

  • Offer employees a wage above the state or federal minimum, with annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation and living expenses in specific cities.
  • Provide good health benefits.
  • Provide employees healthy snacks and beverages at a reasonable cost such as free fruit from local farm programs.
  • Provide a safe workplace with protective equipment, as well as an environment that facilitates wellness, like sit-to-stand desks and ergonomical chairs.
  • Encourage continuing education with reimbursement of college tuition or, at a lower-level, business-related conferences, webinars or trainings on life skills and first aid.
  • Encourage mobility within the company for employees to try various positions and move to other departments or locations, which contributes to cross training and better understanding of interdepartmental processes.
  • Strive for equality and diversity in the workforce in terms of age, gender, race, etc., which contributes a variety of perspectives and experiences in the workplace.

Larger companies should adopt policies affecting external audiences such as the fair treatment of all stakeholders. Investigate if any of your business operations contribute to human rights injustices. Ensure that suppliers and partners adhere to ethical standards. Instill processes to ensure they’re not purchasing products resulting from slavery or child labor. Require that products, ingredients, materials, and other components be sourced according to free trade standards. For more, see this month’s AAHP article “Supply Chain and Fair Trade: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic,” by industry consultant Tim Clarot.

3. Philanthropic Responsibility

There are some creative ways for small homeopathic companies to be seen as philanthropic without creating a foundation or corporate trust, which are typical examples for this CSR category. Philanthropy can be an act or a gift to a worthy cause, such as volunteerism or donations of short-dated medicines.

The homeopathic industry is relatively small in comparison to the conventional pharmaceutical industry to the conventional pharmaceutical industry. Similarly, the many associations related to homeopathy are also relatively small. Like with AAHP, most of these associations have a nearly all-volunteer staff. There are many associations working hard to promote the benefits of manufacturers’ products such as AIH, HANP, HPCUS, NASH, NCH, etc. Encourage your staff to reach out and see what assistance can be provided, like updating a website, writing communications (e-blasts and social media), graphic design, event planning, accounting tasks, even an intern to clean up a database. It’s also a great way for junior staff to gain experience and network.

Specifically, vital work done by Homeopaths Without Borders can easily be supported by donations of our medicine.

Last, consider supporting local charities and community events. Being a good neighbor significantly boosts your reputation in the eyes of potential hires. These backyard efforts are also easier to engage your staff. Encourage staff to either volunteer or entice them to contribute with a matching corporate donation.

4. Economic Responsibility

Like the philanthropic category, economic responsibility doesn't have to impose a significant financial burden on small homeopathic businesses. It simply means companies should make financial decisions based on a commitment to do good. Think of it as a step beyond the "do not harm" oath.

Supporting the types of initiatives listed above with either funding or staff time are all good examples of going above and beyond. But whereas philanthropic responsibly is about helping others to do good, this category is about the company itself. Internal efforts could be to re-invest some profits into the company in the form of staff benefits or equipment to better ensure the quality of medicine to the public. A larger-scale effort is to invest in suppliers, partners, consultants, etc. who also go above and beyond. Retailers have been surveying us manufacturers about CSR initiatives and then publish statistics such as the percentage of partners engaged in some form of benevolent program. Hiring and investing in these types of suppliers and vendors enable their CSR efforts and make your CSR dollars go further.

Benefits of a CSR Program to Your Company

CSR initiatives can be a powerful marketing tool, helping a company position itself favorably in the eyes of homeopathic users, retailers, employees, media, investors, and regulators.

  • Enhanced reputation can boost customer retention, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and ultimately increase revenues.
  • Attract and retain talent who share the company’s values and are motivated to help the company succeed. Employee engagement and satisfaction reduce turnover, disgruntled workers, and the cost of new employees.
  • Build stronger relationships with stakeholders, including suppliers, investors, and your local community.
  • Identify and avoid trouble such as discrimination, unethical use of company funds, or other activities that could lead to a costly lawsuit.
  • Drive innovation to develop better products.