Do you have volunteers who wish their employers were more involved in the community?
Maybe you have a friend who would like to start a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team at his or her company but doesn’t know how. Here are a few tips for employees who want to help their companies become better corporate citizens in their communities.
Understand the Business Environment
Today’s businesses are facing increasing pressure to become more socially responsible. Corporations are discovering that both customers and employees alike are becoming more intentional about supporting businesses that genuinely address the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. In this kind of business climate, it’s easier than ever to convince companies to adopt more sustainable practices and give back to their communities. You’ve got public opinion on your side.
Align with the Mission
To be successful, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program needs to be in alignment with your company’s values. What is your firm’s mission? In which domain does it operate? For instance, if you work for a construction company, your CSR efforts will have more impact if you focus on housing issues than if you try to save the whales.
Look at what your company does and what its core values are. What is important to the people in your company? Then look for nonprofits in your community that are addressing problems in this arena. In doing so, your efforts will be more effective and everyone will feel more focused. Employees will start to see how their efforts on the job complement their efforts in the community. Customers will see a coherence between the company’s mission and its service to the community. When there’s this kind of harmony, it creates an attractive force and more people want to be involved.
Engage the People
The most effective and sustainable CSR programs have enthusiastic involvement from employees, consistent support from management and customers who participate in some form. How you enlist these three groups depends on the structure and culture of your company.
If management is open to new ideas, you can approach them directly about setting up a CSR team. If they tend to need things proven to them, you might want to start with a small, informal initiative (like a food or clothing drive) and get your colleagues on board first. When management sees the enthusiasm of their employees, they’ll be more likely to listen to your ideas. Be sure to present to them the business case for CSR and the benefits to the company: greater employee morale, the ability to attract better talent, a better reputation in the community and even increased sales.
Find ways to involve your customers as well. If you’re holding a food or clothing drive, announce it ahead of time and encourage your customers to bring in their donations. Make it fun and make a connection.
Whether you’re starting with an informal group of colleagues or creating an official CSR team, set up a plan and move your ideas from thought to action in a timely manner. Don’t let the energy dissipate. When is your first event? Which nonprofit are you partnering with? How are you going to announce the event to employees and customers? Who will handle each task? Get the ball rolling and help people see the power of learning from doing.
During the event, don’t forget to document what happens. Even if it’s just taking photos with your smart phone, capture the highlights of the event. It will help generate enthusiasm for the next one.
Reflect and Adjust
When the event is over, get your team together and take stock of the event and how it played out. Then make a plan for next time.
- What happened?
- What effect did it have… on those served? On the employees? On the community?
- How many people showed up? What did they experience?
- What did you learn?
- What will you do differently next time?
- How can you best communicate what happened to your colleagues, to management and to your customers?
All businesses, large and small, are discovering they have a responsibility to the community that goes beyond making a profit. By taking the initiative to help your company become more socially responsible, you are helping both your community and your company thrive.
What’s Your Experience?
Have you or someone you know started a social responsibility initiative in your company? What have you learned? What makes a successful event? What convinced your company’s management to support the endeavor? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.