In the digital age the separation between people and brands is blurring, and corporate citizenship is ever more important for businesses to stay relevant. Everything is instantly accessible to consumers who expect more from their brands, and now organisations can no longer set themselves apart from their communities and their responsibility to have effective CSR practices.
Employees and shoppers alike expect accountability from businesses, and people want to interact with businesses that have a positive social impact. One in 3 consumers are making the choice to purchase from brands who are socially responsible and so the benefits to business reputation from successful CSR are undeniable, and it helps attract the best candidates.
But, successful CSR is only as good as its people. Choosing the right employees to help you achieve your goals and integrate effective CSR.
When it comes to existing employees, building the right team to further your CSR goals is important for success. You might have to rely on both internal and external supporters. Whether your focus is philanthropic, volunteering or the planet – it’s important to select people who reflect your values to create and deliver successful CSR practices.
Long gone are the days of greenwashing CSR. Consumers want authenticity and so do your stakeholders. Building successful and authentic CSR practices from the ground-up starts with hiring.
Values and purpose are our favourite buzzwords, and for good reason. They underpin how your business interacts with its communities and they influence the decisions you make. By hiring candidates who embody your organisation’s values you can create alignment between your values and the people working towards them.
It goes without saying that creating a company culture that encourages giving back is made a lot easier by hiring people that believe in the same things you do. Whether your CSR goal is to volunteer in the local community, or to reduce your impact on the planet, hiring people who share the same values will make it easier to foster the right kind of culture for your business. Thrusting CSR activities onto uninterested employees may lead them to disengage from the company ethos and can lead to a lack of trust in their employer.
People naturally engage with the things they believe in, and hiring people that align with your values and CSR goals means you will have a pre-packaged selection of brand ambassadors who believe in everything you do, through and through.
CSR performance needs as much analysis as other business functions. Transparency in CSR is a long-standing issue. Stakeholders can find it difficult to tell the difference between authentic CSR and ‘window dressing’, and it’s especially hard to identify in SMEs.
Whilst it’s great to show off the important work the team has achieved, it’s important to be transparent about the activity that your business is doing and analyse it as you would any other project: by assessing your impact and how you could have worked better.
The data you collect from your CSR work can help you determine your ESG score (environment, social, governance), which is being increasingly used as a criterion for social investors, so being upfront about CSR can serve the company well further down the line.
The ideal employee is someone who is dynamic and brings the same energy and flow to furthering your CSR goals as they bring to their job. Embedding CSR into daily life at work you can kill two birds with one stone: blending CSR into day-to-day life will lead to more innovative ideas that can help meet both the needs of the business and communities at the same time.
If part of your CSR is to respond in times of crisis, then it’s important that your employees are able to quickly adapt so that they can identify how they can best use resources to make an impact. This will also help to make sure that your projects are creating a worthwhile and meaningful impact on communities.
Create a dynamic team by involving senior management and all levels of the business into working towards CSR. This will improve your employee’s perception of their business as a business who practises what it preaches, and will also help to create a culture that leads by example.
Employee choice will shape your CSR goals. As you work towards making a positive impact it’s important to ask your employees what causes they care about and try to integrate them into your CSR strategies.
As your employees interact with external stakeholders, charities or when out volunteering, they’re acting as a brand ambassador. Casual, one-off community projects are on the decline, so why not aim to embed a culture for good throughout the company?
The Social Good Connect platform makes it easy for organisations you to deliver on CSR through employee volunteering. By matching up businesses and charities our platform helps employees find the right role that can fit around their schedule. To find out more about how we make volunteering easy, talk to Sarah, our business engagement manager.