“CSR is very important to us. Coffee mornings in the office raise money for local charities, which the company match funds. Members of our team take part in the Wolf Run. We want to be known for our CSR.”
Companies with a commitment to CSR – corporate social responsibility – are generally proud of their contribution, and rightly so. Giving something back, however it’s done, is always worth valuing.
Your CSR activities make good news stories and add colour to your internal communications.
Supporting the fund raising activities of employees and making it easy for them to get sponsorship for taking part in things like the Wolf Run (off road running through mud, trails and over obstacles – although why would anyone want to do that!!) is great. Lots of money is raised and employees are likely to think of the business in a good light.
But imagine if your commitment to CSR was something a little more.
Instead of celebrating things that happen accidentally, instead of thinking of one or two things your business can support or get involved in each year, your CSR activity could be both real and strategically developed to support your business goals.
An approach like this will bring real authenticity to your message. Instead of being known as a business committed to CSR you’ll be known as a responsible corporate citizen playing a positive and active role in your communities of choice.
Your good employees, the ones you really want to keep, will recognise the value of your approach, seeing a business that takes its wider responsibilities seriously rather than one willing to provide support instead of real engagement.
So how to develop a strategic and effective CSR programme. As always start with the basics.
- Who’s your target audience? What issues, campaigns and initiatives matter to them?
- What skills, behaviours and attitudes do you want to propagate within your team?
- How much time, money and ‘goods in kind’ are you able to commit?
- With all this in mind pull a list of options together. Maybe between five and ten. If you sell garden care products, you might want to create and care for a garden at a local hospice. If you’re an accountancy firm working for manufacturers struggling for skilled employees you could provide numeracy support for young engineering apprentices. If you want your team to develop project management skills get them setting up and running a fundraising event for a local charity.
- Then let your team vote on the options to create a shortlist, perhaps three to five. Involving them in this way gives them a voice. It’s far more likely to get their engagement.
Then it’s just a case of getting the programme up and running.
And when it comes to the media and other audiences you would like to tell what you’re up to, the stories will have far more authenticity. They’ll be much more powerful.