The definition of social initiative
Social initiatives – often referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR) – center on the idea that businesses and large corporations should also focus on positive behavior that has nothing to do with end-of-year financial statements.
Every industry has a responsibility to look at its impact beyond the salesroom or the factory floor, the aviation industry is no exception.
From evacuation flights and humanitarian aid flights to environmental sustainability and community impact, social initiatives and CSR come in many guises across the entire industry. Other examples of CSR might be as simple as community restoration projects, ensuring worker welfare is a priority, cause championing, and being a force for change internally, locally, and globally.
But why do aviation companies, and the business sector in general, need to act in a socially responsible manner?
It’s true of all business sectors, that having a socially conscious image forms part of an overall image that can affect employees, prospective employees, clients, and prospective clients. More increasingly, consumers and end-users, along with workers and industry partners align their loyalties to companies who are visibly committed to social initiatives. In the USA, a company’s CSR will often be the deciding factor between doing business or walking away.
In this way, having no CSR or social initiative policy in place can damage an organization’s reputation, growth possibility, and financial bottom line.
Have a social initiative that aligns with what you do
From a bicycle company that designs and provides customized vehicles for the disabled, or a supermarket chain that donates excess goods to food banks, using the skills, materials, and personnel at your disposal is not only easier but also promotes a business more positively throughout a particular community.
Finding a social initiative, that aligns with your business model, makes your goals easier to achieve while also offering rewards that will manifest themselves in customer loyalty and repeat orders.
In the world of aviation, commercial airlines, charter companies, private owners, and almost every branch of the industry have the tools at hand to help in some of the most urgent and the most extreme cases.
Airlines regularly involve themselves in air evacuations following a military conflict, natural disasters, or political and social upheaval. Medical evacuation flights have saved lives following catastrophes of all kinds. Humanitarian aid air charter cargo flights have delivered food, personnel, engineering equipment, and medical supplies to hard-hit areas. And, during the current pandemic, airlines and cargo charter companies were first in line to offer their services delivering PPE materials and urgently-needed medical supplies to frontlines fighting the pandemic across the USA and right around the world.
The simple fact is, that any display of social responsibility can help to deliver the loyalty and trust of customers, suppliers, local communities, and even investors. In a growing trend, investors are now, more than ever before, on the lookout for socially responsible companies which are proving to be more lucrative than traditional investment strategies.
Practical ways social initiatives can benefit your business
- Can improve competitiveness in over-stretched markets
- Social conscience promotes loyalty and trust
- Environmental awareness can promote more efficient use of resources
- Social initiatives can help attract the best talent to a company
- Social initiatives can also help in the retention of those talents
- CSR can have a knock-effect in promoting a whole community
- Investors are increasingly focused on a company’s social responsibility
- Awards and media visibility bring the rewards of public recognition
Aviation’s role in corporate social responsibility
As already mentioned, the aviation industry in general, airlines, and especially charter companies are ideally placed to use their assets as part of a global social initiative policy.
Sadly, there is rarely a month when some form of disaster, natural or manmade, doesn’t affect the USA or other global regions. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, civil unrest, famine, and viral outbreaks demand immediate attention and the necessary actions required to alleviate the situation.
These situations are perfectly aligned for aviation to use the power of their social responsibility via emergency air evacuation flights, the deployment of medical evacuation aircraft, humanitarian air service charters, cargo drops, and personnel deployment.
As part of their social initiative, commercial airlines and other branches of the aviation industry have partnered with charitable organizations, government departments, and NGOs like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, the United Nations, UNICEF, USAID, WWF, and a host of other organizations who are on the front line of humanitarian aid and ready to react at a moment’s notice.
With the ongoing global pandemic, aviation companies have delivered on their CRS. They have provided the services of their aircraft, their maintenance capabilities, their ground crews, their logistics specialists, and their furloughed flight crews to manage and undertake the process of moving vast amounts of medical supplies, both at home and abroad.
While offering little or no financial gain to many companies, their reputations have been highlighted globally and will continue to be highlighted long into the future.
How one aviation company responded to a crisis
Following an urgent request for assistance from a South African sporting organization, the air charter company, Chapman Freeborn acted immediately on their social initiative policy of helping where possible.
In mid-summer of 2021, the South African city of Durban, and the KwaZulu-Natal province were experiencing violence and civil unrest. Images broadcast from the region showed scenes of chaos and mass looting, destroyed buildings and businesses, and homes being set ablaze. The whole situation made it impossible for residents to buy food or medical supplies.
The Sharks, a professional South African rugby franchise, contacted the charter company and requested immediate assistance for their teams, families, and workers with the delivery of food and vital supplies.
With many years of experience operating humanitarian charter missions, evacuation flights, and other mercy missions, Chapman Freeborn’s South African wing sprang into action. With only one day’s notice, the company sourced a Pilatus PC12 aircraft and delivered its important cargo – consisting of 92 boxes containing meat, rice, butter, milk, and maize to King Shaka Airport (DUR). In a statement delivered by the company, they cited that assisting the country’s citizens was a proud moment for everyone involved.
Such an act may not make global headlines, but when the news is shared with clients, suppliers, partners, and other players in the aviation industry, the company’s deeds can only strengthen their position, not just in the local market, but in the global market too.
Medevacs, humanitarian aid, and local communities
Aviation companies have long ago realized their importance in global social initiatives, and the resources they have at their disposal to do so. Smart leaders in the aviation industry have created social responsibility charters that allow them to react quickly in times of disaster, famine, and civil unrest through humanitarian aviation missions. They already have the networks in place to work seamlessly and efficiently in support of governments, NGOs, and other on-the-ground organizations when requested.
The most frequent aid requests concern emergency air evacuation flights, medevac charters, and cargo transports, often to inhospitable regions or geographic locations. This requires a team of aviation and logistic specialists, along with a global network of partners, who pool their resources to get the job done.
But it’s not just in times of catastrophe that aviation can showcase its commitment to CSR.
In every sector of the aviation industry, commercial airlines, charter companies, aircraft manufactures, fuel suppliers, and MRO services, have answered the call of sustainability and the important role that they can play in protecting the planet from further damage.
Commitments have been made to advancing research into creating sustainable and less environmentally destructive aviation fuels and other industry-associated contaminants. Manufacturers are using more resource-friendly design principles, reducing waste, limiting noise pollution, creating CO2 offsetting programs, involvement with local communities, and paying greater attention to the wellbeing of their employees and the environment they inhabit.
As the awareness of the importance of social initiatives increases, the aviation industry will continue to strive for new ways in which to use their assets and resources to benefit their workforce, their communities, their regions, and globally.
The rules behind a social initiative policy
- Businesses are not only about money, they are about people, communities, and the creation of a better society for all
- Providing education is one of the most powerful tools for social responsibility awareness
- Corporate social responsibility should always be ethical
- CSR policymakers should be ready to argue against any other policies that affect their own
- Empower people to be the best they can be
- Actively promote diversity and equality
- Compensate workers fairly as part of a CSR policy
- Profit and social initiatives may often overlap – that’s ok
- Always look for new ways to improve your CSR policy