Corporate Social Responsibility – Add on or integral?
To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is good for business. From volunteering days to fundraising events, brand partnerships and skilled “experteering” for charities, CSR clearly plays a role in employee wellbeing, recruitment, engagement, business brand and sales health.
And it is expected. The 2020 Edelman Trust Report stated that 73% of employees say they want the opportunity to change society, and nearly two thirds of consumers identify themselves as belief driven buyers. This is a clear and present market opportunity.
So what could it look like when a business chooses to make CSR a fundamental part of how they operate? As the next step up from “good for business” to a leadership defining role – in our volatile and uncertain world, this goes to the heart of long-term business sustainability. What is the larger business and social impact that can be achieved when business value and social value are integrated into the organisational strategy, allowing CSR to become “built-in” rather than “bolt on”?
Steps to think about:
What are your greatest social impact opportunities? A property developer designing communities which promote wellbeing and enhanced community connection while actively preserving the natural environment? A tech company closing the digital divide? A finance company creating models to better engage and serve financially stressed and vulnerable communities?
The key here is authenticity. Do your activities speak to the truth of your brand or are they one-off and isolated?
What are your social impact touch points in everyday business objectives? Are they developing leaders, engaging employees, engaging your supply chain, connecting with communities, understanding social issues and/or innovating with products and services? It makes sense to engage your employees to develop a matrix of touchpoints and integrate your activities across your business.
Where do you have a vested interest in solving a social issue or what is your ability to impact an issue?
Well-designed charity partnerships support both your business impact and social impact as well as signal trust in your activities to your customers and networks. Look for shared markets and delivery channels as well as synergy in your mission. This will support integrating across your business and deepen your impact. Look at shared touchpoints to activate the partnership. Think beyond the usual suspects such as volunteering days. At Royal Far West we work with partners who train their frontline staff to understand the issues that rural and regional communities are facing, so they can better help them. We can provide clinical expertise and business partners can support through their networks. The end result: greater social impact and collective wellbeing to disadvantaged communities.
Power your people
Engage from the heart. Employees want to be part of making the world a better place. Connect your staff and executive to the people your organisation can help. Help them understand social issues. Work with charity partners to develop leadership programs that foster soft skills and social impact. Use the power of a shared story and message — “together we can make a difference”.
Last but not least, think of ways to measure your impact to help you tell the story. Look at what metrics can be measured and communicated, such as the number of people helped, the changes that were made, and any lessons learnt. Measure progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are a global measure that organisations can contribute to, measure and report against. Stories and data together give the most power.
Good luck on your journey! We are always keen to work with partners around a shared mission with impact. The photo above shows the team at Schneider Electric creating “Mr Gobbles” a sensory tool our Occupational Therapy team use in clinical sessions with children.
If you are keen to chat further please call on 8966 8597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org