Not long ago a large proportion of organisations didn’t care about Corporate Social Responsibility. Shockingly (or perhaps not), they suddenly started caring when it became a marketable strategy.
Such was the growth of CSR. It has been embraced by nearly everybody and covers nearly every aspect of “doing good”. McDonalds has a CSR policy on its website, box manufacturers are planting trees and BMW is hiring older people. What is causing this shift is for greater minds than myself to fathom, I’m here to tell you that you WILL be judged for how you handle your customer’s data.
CSR and CDR have a lot in common:
· at birth they were, by many, perceived as an unnecessary cost;
· forward-thinking brands adopted them much earlier;
· public criticism and negative press will push laggard brands to act.
Fifty years ago many did not care where their mink coat came from - stories of animal abuse languished in small articles at the back of broadsheet newspapers. Compare that to now - even Britain First, which probably has the most archaic following on Facebook can strike a chord with its followers by highlighting that animal abuse is wrong. The shift in public perceptions regarding animal welfare will be repeated when it comes to data privacy.
It is inevitable that people will start to care about their data. Get ready. It won’t just be The Guardian readers - it’ll be the lot of us outside your doors, asking why all of our details have been stolen, why you didn’t protect them and what you’re going to do about it.
Sony, Target, ASDA, etc, have all fallen foul of data breaches due to poor data management, yet escaped without long term damage. So you could be forgiven for underestimating the scale of this change. But, if the EU gets its way, fines will be much, much bigger.
Also, the public is becoming more educated on the subject. You only have to recall the care.data PR disaster. People really care about their medical records, soon they’ll care that much about all of their data.
So your Corporate Data Responsibility will be important in the years to come just like your Corporate Social Responsibility is now. How transparent you are about what you’re doing with the data, how well protected it is and whether you’re selling it will all factor into the customer’s buying decision, just as free range has become the norm over factory-farmed eggs.
So are you going to be ahead of the game and get yourselves in line, or wait for it to all kick off? My advice, do it now.
NB: In all probability, your Corporate Data Responsibility will become part of your Corporate Social Responsibility, but for now let’s stick with CDR!