Even the most well intentioned initiatives can have negative consequences if you don’t do enough research before launching. Just ask General Mills.
The company, famous for cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, which has a bee as its mascot, recently launched a “Bring Back the Bees” campaign. General Mills gave out 1.5 million wildflower seeds to customers in the hopes the seeds would get planted across the U.S. and help the declining bee population.
But some critics have argued that this initiative could actually do more harm than good. Since General Mills gave out the same seeds to customers across the country, it’s possible that the wildflowers could become invasive species in certain areas. And that could potentially hurt local ecosystems.
For its part, General Mills said that it chose the flowers because of how attractive their nectar is to bees. And it also said that the particular variety of wildflower it chose is not an invasive species.
Conservation and environmentalism are hot topics right now. And businesses that try to give back could potentially do a lot of good. But today’s consumers aren’t just going to take your word for it.
A Cautionary CSR Example
Individuals and groups are likely to do research and understand exactly the type of impact your program might have — positive or negative. So, businesses should heed the lesson in this cautionary CSR example: do your own research to make sure that all aspects of an initiative like this are going to lead to a positive outcome.