You can promote genuine interest in your company’s CSR plan by putting employees and the community first.
Unfortunately, most business leaders believe that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is someone else’s problem. That needs to change, now. You’re not alone in this kind of thinking, but CSR is definitely your problem.
Most organizations talk a good game when it comes to corporate social responsibility. In practice, however, things are quite different. Many leaders fail miserably at incorporating CSR into their company’s business model. As an example, environmental damage caused by carbon emissions is a growing global problem.
The Makings of a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative
In the United States, only a third of the 600 largest corporations have a systematic sustainability oversight committee that operates at the executive level. Most companies fail to incorporate sustainability as a part of their business model. Yet, the companies that do enjoy phenomenal success.
The organizations that are doing it right have created conditions that enable stakeholders to produce their own sustainability. For example, ethics expert – Professor CB Bhattacharya, has developed a three-phase CSR model that demonstrates how companies can move beyond talk and embed accountability into corporate culture.
To begin with, the expert notes that psychological ownership encompasses feelings of a connection to a person, company or concept. According to Bhattacharya, research shows that feelings of psychological ownership contribute to greater engagement, job satisfaction as well as increased productivity and revenue.
Walking the Corporate Social Responsibility Walk
One way to put your money where your mouth is through sustainable, responsible, and impact investing (SRI). McKinsey & Company forecast that the financial vertical will generate over $300 billion in investment funds by 2020.
For executives who want to galvanize a company around sustainability, psychological ownership is a powerful concept. Every day, the public is faced with evidence of climate change and other issues that harm the environment, although many choose to ignore those warnings.
Many people want to do something, however, but they don’t know what. Business leaders can fulfill people’s desire to do good by transforming employee bystanders and community stakeholders into sustainability partners – including in regard to how community members and enterprise stakeholders contribute individually to social good.
Professor Bhattacharya’s construct for creating sustainability ownership includes three parts – incubate, launch and entrench.
Incubation encompasses the process of initially defining the construct of your organization’s accountability domain. During this stage, reflect on your company’s mission and its role in the community and the world. Now, according to the professor, you can solidify your goals by creating an evidence-based list of issues that exist in your current value chain – for example, areas of community interest where your company’s objective’s overlap with employee and community stakeholder concerns about accountability.
When you launch your sustainability initiative, you must introduce it to all stakeholders enthusiastically. Your positivity and energy about your corporate social responsibility initiative must transfer feelings of ownership to vested parties. To encourage employees and stakeholders to take ownership of sustainability, for instance, showcase it as an opportunity to build a future of well-being for both your enterprise and the community.
Now, you’ve planted the seed, but you’re not done yet. You must now entrench those feelings of ownership to make sustainability the status quo. When done correctly, this is an intuitive process for stakeholders.
By developing key metrics and monitoring the performance of your organization’s sustainability performance, you can demystify how employees and community members contribute to your CSR initiative and the betterment of society. Executive leaders, for instance, can incorporate sustainability goals into their direct reports. They can use this information to benchmark employees, departments, divisions and business units.
Getting the Team Down with the Program
To date, 85% of S&P 500 enterprises publish annual corporate social responsibility reports. Still, you don’t have to create an elaborate, convoluted CSR program to get employees interested in sustainability.
Start small. As an example, create opportunities for staff members to give back. Giving back may include supporting special causes or helping employees in time of need.
For instance, you can launch a sunshine fund to help employees during personal emergencies. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you communicate how easy it is for employees to participate in sustainable initiatives. Also, give employees the technological resources that they need so that they have an outlet to do good. For instance, open up a company web portal where employees can find out more information about and manage their involvement in your CSR causes.
As your CSR programs expand, think about launching an annual employee rally to highlight the accomplishments of your programs. The event will give employees something to look forward to. You can fuel employees’ passion for doing good with matching contributions, for instance.
Cone Research discovered that 79% of employees think charitable matching is important for philanthropy. It’s great when employees contribute. However, it’s even greater when your company does the same. Also, when choosing nonprofit partners, it’s smart to allow your employees to participate in the decision.
Taking Your CSR Initiative to the Next Level
Today, technology makes nearly everything easier. Employees who are informed are more likely to participate in your CSR initiative. Your employees’ level of engagement depends on regular communication about opportunities to participate in social initiatives. For instance, you can:
- Build an email distribution list for social good
- Mention CSR opportunities during team meetings
- Promote charitable events in the company newsletter
Most importantly, however, always remember to recognize employees’ who participate in initiatives that help to improve the quality of life for others.
In other words, recognize your champions who volunteer and participate in your sustainability initiatives. Deep down, everyone wants to do good. People volunteer and give out of the goodness of their hearts. However, everyone craves recognition. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to deliver recognition for your employees. A thank you note from a top executive or an employee perk, such as dress down day, goes a long way to showing how much you appreciate the charitable efforts of your staff members.
It can’t be emphasized enough – change starts at the top. Before you launch any CSR initiative, make sure that top executives – from board members on down – are down with the program. Nobody wants to go against the grain or be viewed as someone who has a different opinion than their superiors. Executive support will compel all subordinates to fulfill their desire to do good.
Transparency will go a long way to showing employees that you’re serious about corporate social responsibility. Employees will take cues from company communications, for instance, that show your commitment to serving the community. In addition to matching donations, for instance, you can offer paid time off for volunteers. By doing so, you’ll reinforce the idea that employees will see rewards for their charitable acts. Eventually, your exemplary example of leadership will transform your company’s corporate culture to one of compassion, philanthropy and giving.