Posted by Robert Half on 18 October 2013
What do Google, The Walt Disney Company and BMW all have in common? Other than being household names, they all vied for pole position in this year's ranking of the world's top 100 corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputations.
In today’s rapidly changing business world, it has become more than just a buzzword as both consumers and employees become more discerning about what they buy and where they work. A good corporate social responsibility program should be focused on doing a few things well. Decide what causes your company wants to help and focus on those, instead of spreading yourself thin over several different areas. Ensure you do your research and align your company with causes that match your brand.
What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
When a business talks about their corporate social responsibility program, they often mean they have policies and activities in place that have a positive impact on society and the environment, and contributes to sustainable development while being compliant with the law, ethical standards and national or international values or traditions.
A robust CSR self-regulated program, often demonstrates a business’s commitment to its people and the environment making it more desirable to stakeholders, including both customers and employees. As corporate social responsibility affects the reputation of a company, it's usually something that sits with the PR team or HR manager within a business.
For these companies, their desire to be known for "doing good" is intrinsically interwoven with their core business strategy – as opposed to simply donating to worthy causes – which is why they are recognised by such indexes by the Reputation Institute.
Google place “doing good” at the centre of their corporate principles, and they also have an active corporate philanthropy program to boot. From a business perspective, there’s Google Green and Google Energy, which have committed more than $1 billion towards renewable energy projects.
Google certainly does ‘walk the talk’ – they established these business units to reduce the costs of energy consumption of the Google Group of companies and strive towards being powered exclusively by green power. The company also claims that it uses only 50 per cent of the energy of most other data centres. Within its google.org unit, the company is able to deliver socially-beneficial technologies such as Google Person Finder, which helps reconnect people in the wake of major disasters.
Another firm that takes its CSR seriously is international accounting heavyweight Deloitte – so much so that in 2009 they joined the steering committee of the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative.
Since then it has been lauded for many programs including its community investment hallmark – Deloitte21 – whereby the company helps under-served young people across the globe acquire education and skills to thrive in a 21st century economy. In Australia, more than 30 of the company’s directors, partners and managers serve as mentors to students who are at risk of disengaging from school as part of the Australian Business and Community Network’s GOALS program.
Also on Australian shores, but from the IT sector, is software company Atlassian, who credit Gandhi for one its business values: “Be the change you seek.”
While the company openly encourages everyone within the company to create positive change, they also inject 1 per cent of annual profit, company equity and employee time to social causes. They remain the largest contributor to the Room to Read program in Cambodia, and to date their contributions have impacted more than 90,000 children. The company has also donated more than 13,000 software licences to the tune of $27.6 million.
As business evolves in the 21st century, there is no shortage of CSR inspiration. From employee engagement programs, reducing environmental footprints to product innovation, good citizenship abounds.
Lastly, it's important to keep track
Any good CSR program should be measurable. Although it can be difficult to accurately measure what impact you have on a social level, you can track how many hours have been spent volunteering or how much money has been donated to charity. Keep track of this information to help quantify how successful your program has been and to provide a benchmark for the future.
Be upfront about why you’re supporting certain causes so the community can understand why you care. For example, has someone in your company been affected by the issue you’re championing? People react positively when they hear personal stories, which will help your company connect with the public on a deeper level.
Also, ensure you create long-lasting relationships with communities and the causes you’re supporting. For example, engage with local youth centres and set up a ‘big brother, big sister’ program where staff in your organisation can help give guidance to youth in need. By doing so, you will successfully engage the entire organisation with your CSR program.
Implementing a successful CSR program might seem daunting, but ensuring you follow a few simple steps along the way will help elevate your company’s brand, and also bring about meaningful change.