The umbrella of corporate responsibilities has grown over the past several decades. Customers still expect that employers provide safe working conditions for employees and offer quality products. However, they now expect that companies operate in socially responsible ways. Protestors and activists regularly call out companies who fail to see their impact on the environment, workers, or the local community.
Community social responsibility (CSR) is no longer a feature that is ‘nice to have.’ It must be a standard integrated into the fabric of organizational operations. Executive search firms seek out candidates who are skilled in community outreach. Those who adopt environmentally friendly operational strategies are a boon to companies desiring to reap the abundant benefits of CSR.
What does CSR look like?
The purpose behind a company’s CSR efforts is to recognize the significant impact the organization is having and can have on the environment, the community, their shareholders, and the people they serve. While some see large corporations as entities that consume resources and produce waste, they also have an unparalleled ability to use their resources, abilities, influence, and innovations to improve conditions worldwide.
The methods executives employ to fulfill their social responsibility will look different from one corporation to the next. However, the majority of CSR efforts can be grouped into four main categories.
- Political Involvement – In 2018, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff stepped out on a limb in direct support of Proposition C in California to help reduce the incidence of homelessness in the Bay Area. While the courts fought over the legality of the legislation, Benioff pushed his initiative by establishing the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative to search for other solutions to the growing problem.
- Pro Bono Services – Large corporations such as Ford, AIG, Walmart, and others fund or directly provide legal services to victims of domestic abuse, refugees facing deportation, and impoverished hospital patients. Lawyers assist these vulnerable individuals in navigating complex court proceedings and legal forms.
- Community Outreach – Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s, worked hard to rise from the son of sharecroppers in Tennessee to become one of a limited number of black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. To help close the gap in leadership positions nationwide, Ellison launched his Track to the Trades program, reimbursing employees for expenses related to trade certifications.
- Environmental Impact – When Michele Buck took the lead in Hershey’s social responsibility efforts in 2011, she pushed the company towards certifying their products made with 100% sustainable cocoa, supporting deforestation efforts in the growing industry.
Your company’s approach to CSR will depend on a variety of factors, including the needs of the surrounding community, your particular area of expertise, and the resources you have at your disposal. A CEO who knows how to listen to and understand the needs that arise and lead others in developing and implementing solutions stands to realize many benefits for the company and its employees.
What benefits come from CSR?
Enhanced Reputation – Executives that show an active interest in the community and the environment demonstrate their concern for improving conditions for employees at work and the broader population. Media outlets often present stories that feature corporate involvement in philanthropic events. Customers appreciate companies involved in improving the world and are more likely to give them their business. For some, the causes that your organization supports may even be more important than the products or services you offer.
Customer Loyalty – We are all drawn towards individuals and organizations that have the same values and beliefs that we do. Community involvement shows customers what your company stands for promotes loyalty from those who identify with those same issues, providing steady and reliable income.
Brand Recognition – When employees wearing the company logo volunteer in the community, people associate your company with that cause. They connect something meaningful to them, such as a 5k to raise money for cancer and your employees, extending your branding beyond the services you offer during the week to include what you give back to others.
Capital Investment – Growing companies often require an infusion of outside resources to get off the ground or fund company expansion. Investors are more likely to invest in a company with a cause. It allows them to make money while supporting a cleaner environment or current social issues.
Recruiting and Retention – Employees are more engaged and inspired working for a company that endorses positive change. It can also make a position at your company more appealing to applicants. According to a survey performed by Cone Communications, 82% of millennials take CSR into account when deciding to take a job. Additionally, 70% stated they were willing to accept a job that paid less if they believed the company had strong social values. Keeping CSR at the forefront of your business can help attract and retain up-and-coming talent and bring fresh new ideas to projects.
Building Teams – Volunteering in the community presents employees with unique opportunities to develop leadership skills as they work together for a common cause. It also fosters a sense of community among employees working in all areas of the business.
Leading from the Top
Executive leadership in any organization determines more than business strategy. They set the tone for company culture and model community outreach behavior and attitudes. Utah executive search companies are skilled in identifying c-suite candidates willing to stand for something and lead the company to support local nonprofit organizations and volunteer in the community. If you have not yet found you the niche in your community to support, the holidays are a great time to join others in supporting families and individuals who find themselves in less favorable circumstances this year. Pulling employees together to help others this year can help them work better together in the year to come.