This past year has been, to put it mildly, disruptive. Consumers have discovered their voice and demand higher standards for how businesses and their leaders behave. Corporations have been forced to take a good hard look at their conduct and make necessary changes. Issues like workplace harassment, diversity, equal pay, data protection, and corporate social responsibility have sparked conversations about how employees should be treated.
What is CSR?
Corporate social responsibility is the commitment that organizations do or do not have to people and the planet. Millennials and Generation Z have been driving this movement. These young consumers research and determine which companies are worthy of their business; supporting those that demonstrate concern for employee welfare, community development, environmental sustainability, and human rights, to name a few. There is a heightened expectation for corporations to function as role models in the social and environmental sphere.
Let’s explore how the CSR platform can be reframed and which businesses are truly making a difference.
How are businesses making an effort?
Sustainability is awareness of overall impact, and frankly it’s skilled positioning. A sustainable organization acknowledges the existence of others, which includes their stakeholders. Building and cultivating quality relations with stakeholders based on engagement and dialogue is crucial. This benefits risk management and also supports development while giving the organization a competitive edge.
Corporate volunteering, specifically volunteer time off (VTO), is a quickly growing trend among businesses who are committed to corporate social responsibility. Reports show that providing employees with volunteer opportunities builds loyalty and promotes internal pride. Companies like Patagonia, Salesforce and Timberland have implemented paid volunteer time off into their benefits programs.
A common practice that promotes diversity and inclusion is affinity groups. They allow likeminded individuals to explore and bond over their passions while simultaneously giving back and helping others. Yelp has cultivated a sense of belonging with groups like Awesome Women in Engineering, Diverse Burst, VetConnect, and LGBTQQIA. Yelp’s affinity groups attend marches, volunteer, and develop projects that assist local communities.
Connecting to Core Values
For most businesses, corporate social responsibility is something to seriously consider. Companies like Yelp and Salesforce connect their CSR efforts right back to their mission statement and core values. They practice what they preach. These minor efforts have the potential to benefit customer engagement and overall brand affinity. Businesses who can prove that they genuinely care about the state of the earth and its inhabitants will probably live on well past 2018. Those who can’t will burn in corporate hell.