As the calendar winds down, you are, like myself, probably doing some reflection. It makes sense- we’re wrapping up another holiday season, a time when we focus on giving to others, reflecting on all of the great things that have happened this year and how thankful we are for what we have. You might also have participated in a community gift donation program, volunteered at a soup kitchen, or donated money to your favorite charity. Which is why as I reflect on 2014, corporate social responsibility is what comes to mind.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be a focus year-round, but the end of the year inspires us to think beyond ourselves. How can we give to others through the giving of our time and talents? I am thankful for the opportunity to give in many ways through the Emergenetics CSR policy. Two recent events stand out as great examples. We came together as a group to provide Christmas presents to two families through Denver Kids, and on the Wednesday before Christmas we held an ugly sweater party, decorated cookies, and wrapped the presents together. And our NYC office volunteered at a local elementary school, leading 4th & 5th graders through Brain Gym, talking about learning styles, and the power of staying positive and recognizing your unique strengths.
To a Millennial like myself, I place great stake in a company that provides these types of opportunities. In a recent guest blog post, Virtuali CEO Sean Graber pointed to research on Millennials, saying they want “alignment with their company’s mission, the ability to have a strategic impact….and programs that focus on philanthropy and environmental sustainability.” If your company is looking to hire, chances are this can be a valuable recruitment tactic!
But the truth is, corporate social responsibility isn’t just a Millennial thing. This article by Devin Thorpe for Forbes features top leaders from companies large and small discussing the benefits of CSR. Says Thorpe, “While each company I interviewed had varying responses for the benefits of CSR and cause marketing for the company, 51 of 59 believe that they have happier employees and 45 of the 59 believe they end up with better employees, either as a result of being able to attract better talent or that the CSR programs help to develop better employees.”
The Gen Xers and Baby Boomers that I know also are in favor of CSR… but only when it’s done right and makes sense for the organization. During a recent conversation with my father, he shared the CSR tagline of a former employer, “Be the neighbor you want to be.” To me, this means one should not commit to corporate social responsibility if you’re going to pursue it half-heartedly. If you’re going to do it, do so with gumption. No one wants a wishy-washy neighbor or friend. And it’s the same with an organizations and corporate social responsibility.
If you have CSR policy, your employees- yes even the Millennials- want to know why you have it. Is it in place as part of the corporate culture and designed to truly create impact, or is it just something you’re supposed to do? In the same way that employees look to their leaders to live out the company values, everyone looks to the organization to create clarity around corporate social responsibility. And when there are mixed messages, that’s when the grumbling and wondering, “why are we doing this?” begins.
It’s the time of year for resolutions, so I’d like to encourage this one- consider, or re-consider your CSR policy from an Emergenetics standpoint:
- Start with the abstract (Analytical/Conceptual): What’s the WHY? Do our policy and programs fit with the overall company goals and vision? Are we adding value- whether it’s to the community, to the company, or hopefully both?
- Then move into the concrete (Structural/Social): How is our policy manifested? Are we actively pursuing our programs and are the clear procedures in place for corporate matching, volunteer days, and how to make recommendations? WHO are we impacting?
- And finally, think about the Purples- do your behaviors allow for an optimal CSR program?
- Expressiveness: Are we being clear on expectations? Do people have the ability to communicate ideas, suggestions, or frustrations, and are we offering multiple channels (1-1, email, group discussions, etc.) to do so?
- Assertiveness: Are we driving our policy forward and ensuring the organization makes it a priority? Are we seeking consensus and outside opinions before finalizing decisions?
- Flexibility: Are we remaining open to new opportunities rather than just doing the same thing over and over each year? Are we truly evaluating new options before switching course?
If you are going to pursue corporate social responsibility in 2015, identify your passion points, what makes sense in your industry, and where can you have the most impact. Using a Whole Emergenetics (WE) approach, you’ll likely have more success and create more impact.