Though Corporate Social Responsibility is the latest buzzword, it’s definitely not something respected organizations throw in as an afterthought. In the past, weekend environmentalism, a yearly toy drive, or adopt-a-highway was enough to fill the sustainable development quota. Now, however, CSR programs are an organic part of an organization’s success and vitality. CSR programs are an integral part of corporate culture.
“Generation Twitter” wants to be part of something more than climbing the corporate ladder. They want that ladder to have meaning. When they walk into their workplace, they want to walk into a place that is doing something, every day, to make their communities better. Attracting the right employees in a competitive marketplace may just depend on the CSR of an organization.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has a 115 page document that outlines an implementation guide for social responsibility programs for businesses: IISD, Corporate Social Responsibility: An Implementation Guide for Business . The debate about whether a CSR is necessary isn’t on the table anymore. It’s about how the CSR is bought into by the employees of an organization and how that brings in customers and clients. The CSR is an extension – a critical one—of the corporate culture of each organization.
Employee engagement is directly related to having an “impact career.” “Workers who are able to make a social and environmental impact on the job are most satisfied by a margin of 2:1.” (Ellen Weinreb, Talent Show Proof: A Strong CSR Program can attract, retain talent for less, greenbiz.com).
Weinreb goes to discuss the change in the Millennial mindset, as they don’t see a big distinction between their work life and private life. Their work is a projection of who they are, and having been raised on social and environmental doctrine, they think finding a career with social impact is a key component to engagement. “Above all, CSR is about sensitivity to context – both societal and environmental – and related performance. It is about moving beyond declared intentions to effective and observable actions and measurable societal impacts.” (IISD, p.16)
The bottom line is that organizations with strong CSRs have a solid bottom line. Corporate social responsibility programs pay off. Statistics show that employees who buy into a corporate CSR program have higher morale (SHRM, shrm.org) “[C]ompanies with highly engaged employees have three times the operating margin ..” (Forbes Leadership Forum, The Top Ten Trends in CSR for 2012, forbes.com).
There’s no point, however, in having a wonderful corporate social responsibility program without sharing it. Another key component to attracting and retaining top talent is by creating an effective communication program – both internal and external – of an organization’s CSR program. The final blog post in this series will specifically address communication successes and pitfalls when it comes to CSR programs by addressing the landmines some companies have stepped on as well as the savvy techniques of others.