All Articles Leadership Building a corporate social responsibility program

Building a corporate social responsibility program

3 min read


Today’s guest blogger is Elena Ziebarth, SmartBrief’s new-product development associate.

The Greater Washington Board of Trade hosted a Corporate Social Responsibility Workshop this morning featuring Tara Greco, vice president of corporate social responsibility at APCO Worldwide, and Bill Hanbury, president and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area. Their remarks highlighted how to develop CSR and community relations efforts as well as the importance of skills-based volunteerism as a way for companies to to give back to the community. Here are the top five points from their presentation:

  1. Corporate social responsibility enhances a company’s bottom line. Long-term corporate investment in CSR initiatives not only enhances a company’s reputation but also helps to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Less employee turnover benefits a company’s bottom line, and CSR initiatives testify to the trustworthiness of a company as a business partner. In addition, when employees are out in the community, they serve as brand ambassadors who attract goodwill for the company.
  2. Avoid PR-stunt stigma by ingraining CSR into the company’s mission and values. Until CSR becomes part of the whole value system and strategic mission of a company, one-off initiatives will be considered PR stunts. Whole company buy-in, from the C-suite to each individual employee, is vital to creating a culture oriented to serving and shaping the communities where your business is present.
  3. Community involvement often starts as a grass-roots effort by a small group of employees. CSR initiatives often get their start from small groups of employees who are engaged in a community effort and turn to their colleagues for help in reaching a particular goal. A company’s human resources team should work to identify these grass-roots efforts and then develop a program to engage the entire company.
  4. HR directors and recruiters need to value CSR’s role in recruitment. Job seekers also evaluate companies by their engagement in social issues. A recruiter or human resources director needs to be well-versed in the company’s CSR initiatives and have examples of the personal impact that they have on employees and communities.
  5. Skills-based volunteerism (pro bono service) can be more valuable than dollar donations. While dollar donations are necessary to fund their activities, many nonprofits and community projects find greater benefit when a business can lend its expertise and intellectual capital. By saving a community organization from hiring financial, public relations or strategic planning professionals, a company is not only making an “in-kind” donation but is also using its expertise to benefit the nonprofit’s long-term activities.

Want to learn more about starting and growing a CSR program at your company? Check out these tools and resources:

Image credit, cnicbc via iStock