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Building Strong and Inclusive Communities through Corporate Social Responsibility

By Work With Us Foundation on November 18 2019

2019-09 How to Get Involved with Corporate Social Responsibility-Blog PostIn any business, elements such as profits, output, and productive capacity are all fundamental to organizational success. However, the concept of success has a much broader reach that goes beyond the raw numbers. Truly successful companies also encompass the many human aspects of a business, such as workplace culture, employee satisfaction, and building a trustworthy, positive brand that people want to engage with.

One of the ways organizations are embracing these human aspects and making them an integral part of their operational processes is through corporate social responsibility programs. This demonstration of commitment to people and communities is an impactful messaging tool – one that is capable of resonating well with employees, customers, and partners. Here is a look at some of the benefits of corporate social responsibility, and how they can be implemented in the workplace.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the notion that companies have a commitment to implement operational policies and/or practices that will help manage social, environmental, and economic concerns.

While some aspects of CSR are required by law in certain industries, it is generally up to a company to choose the type of concern they would like to address. This can be an issue that the company is already aware of, or, after consulting the community, a problem that needs more attention.

The key goal for a company that is beginning a CSR program is to take action and engage with the community in a meaningful and beneficial way.

What are Some Common Myths Around CSR?

Although CSR tactics have proven to be beneficial, the perception of these benefits is not always universally accepted, due to common misunderstandings surrounding the subject matter.

For instance, many companies see CSR as a fad, or even an unnecessary expense. The belief is that CSR initiatives require a large amount of resources, but offer very little return. As a result, CSR is perceived as a task for well-established, highly profitable companies only.

In addition, others may view CSR as simply a PR move that creates the illusion of improvement for promotional purposes only.

What are the Advantages of CSR?

Despite the myths and misunderstandings, CSR programs have been shown to provide businesses with many long-term advantages. CSR initiatives can actually help companies save money and become more profitable, contrary to the belief that these programs are costly.

CSR programs help employers improve the physical and social environment in which they operate. This improvement promotes more efficient operations, helping the company reduce costs relating to inefficiencies, and helps encourage the optimization of other processes.

Another added benefit of CSR programs is that they assist employers with attracting and retaining employees. Building a socially responsible brand and culture attracts a wider selection of potential employees whose values resonate with that of the company, which can help with recruiting and onboarding. In terms of the current workforce, some CSR programs can also help employees develop new skills, which can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction.

In addition, the positive reputation of a socially responsible brand also makes the company more attractive to potential clients, and helps them build a stronger relationship with the community as a whole.

How Can Companies Implement CSR Initiatives?

When choosing a CSR strategy, companies should choose a specific initiative that best utilizes the resources they have available. It’s also important to find a CSR plan that provides a mutual benefit, or shared value, to both the community and their business. The overall goal is to make "choices that benefit both sides."

For example, Deloitte encourages employees to engage in pro-bono work, providing the usual services to non-profit organizations for free. The firm offers this service on an organizational level, having devoted more than 830,000 hours of their work time over the past 11 years. In addition to their formal pro bono projects, the Deloitte professionals participate in more than 145,000 hours of skills-based volunteering every year with other non-profit organizations. As a result, the meaningful formal and volunteer work done at Deloitte improves job satisfaction, helps employees develop new skills, and contributes to non-profits simultaneously.

Organizations can also make a meaningful change by opting for a CSR plan that is related to their current work and values. TOMS, for instance, began their "One for One" CSR program as a way to produce shoes commercially and provide them to those in need. The advantage of this strategy is a boost in awareness of important issues, which in this case is a lack of adequate footwear in developing countries. Making customers aware of this issue via a CSR initiative can help inform their purchasing choices.

A company can also choose to start small because – no matter how small the initiative – these choices can make a lasting impact, especially as the organization grows. For example, choosing environmentally friendly office supplies or going paperless are great starting points for both saving on certain office expenses, and helping reduce an organization’s carbon footprint.

A Diverse and Inclusive Future

Another way to positively impact the community and build a stronger, brighter future – both within and outside of an organization – is to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Hiring employees with inclusivity in mind offers a more diverse range of perspectives, a greater variety of talent, and ultimately, contributes to the continuing success of both a business and the community.

For more information on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, feel free to get in touch with WorkWithUs.

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