The business value of CSR – and 4 tips for success
According to a report from the ADP Research Institute The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace (2), “today’s workers are increasingly motivated to work by more than just earning a pay check. Largely, employees are looking to work on projects that are personally meaningful, have a positive impact on society, and benefit people’s well-being.”
CSR programs can provide this meaningful connection for employees – but what’s the secret to building and sustaining a powerful CSR program? Begin, manage and end every initiative with a great communication strategy. Here are four simple steps to get you on the path to success:
- Find a suitable match
Don’t take a scattershot approach to CSR initiatives. Instead, focus on core strengths and activities that directly link with your brand and your stakeholders. Select initiatives that have the potential to engage your employees, intrigue your customers and enhance your brand image.
Coca-Cola (3), for instance, has invested more than $100 million dollars in research to reduce the energy consumption of the refrigerators that keep its beverages cold. Not only does this investment help reduce a major cost for the retailers of Coca-Cola, but it reduces carbon emissions, too.
- Show me the numbers
Cute photos of smiling, diverse employees volunteering are great, but quantifying your impact is more powerful. You measure your business initiatives by return on investment, so do the same with social impacts. Footwear producer Timberland (4) sets an annual CSR target for reducing its carbon footprint, posting progress on its website, such as the following:
“We had a 9% reduction in GHG emissions compared to 2013 (15,874 vs. 17,514), which is a 46% reduction over our 2006 baseline. This decrease can be attributed to lower energy usage in several of our European and Asian sites, and a decrease in emissions related to employee air travel.”
It’s hard to argue with statistics.
- Explore new platforms and channels
The days of writing a press release and sending it to your local news outlets are far gone. Communications platforms are everywhere. Did one of your employees volunteer for a charitable road race? Have them take photos, write a Facebook post, craft a blog post for your intranet or make a video for use on your company website.
Instead of saving your CSR messages for the annual CSR report, why not chop them into multiple blog posts throughout the year or a series of CSR videos? IBM (5), for example, devotes part of its website to showing how its technology “can improve the systems of how we teach and how we learn” posting videos, interviews, research white papers and case studies about the success of their CSR. The Evolution of Work (2) notes that social media will become an increasingly important platform to communicate work-related messages like CSR initiatives, both internally and externally.
- Speak in your stakeholder’s language
Different audiences have differing expectations for CSR-related communication. To engage your employees, for example, show how their participation drives positive social change. For potential job candidates, highlight the organisation’s long-term commitment to making a positive social impact. For investors, emphasise how CSR activities enhance brand value. Knowing the various perspectives of your stakeholders, and customising your message and channels accordingly, will reap large rewards.
It’s not enough to have great CSR initiatives if nobody hears about them. HR leaders need to develop a communication strategy that aligns CSR initiatives with core business values and shares CSR success stories with relevant stakeholders through a variety of channels. Follow our four suggestions and you’ll be doing just that.
For more information on the importance on communicating purpose beyond just profits, download the report: The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace
Written by: Chuck Leddy