As a business owner or HR manager, there are several ways to demonstrate to your employees, customers, and stakeholders that your company is driven by something other than just profits. One of these ways is by implementing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Social Value programme. This is a strategy that businesses use to incorporate social and environmental concerns into their everyday operations and it not only helps a company build a positive image but can also increase employee engagement and satisfaction. In this blog post, with the wonderful help of Jackie Sumner, the CEO of VAAC (Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester), we will explore how you can create a robust CSR programme that your workforce will rally behind.
Define Corporate Social Responsibility
Start by defining CSR/social value and what it means to your company. This will help you to establish clear goals and objectives. CSR initiatives can be diverse, such as promoting sustainability, supporting local communities through charitable work, or adopting ethical business practices. Therefore, your definition of CSR should be aligned with your company’s business values and culture. This will help ensure that your values are embedded in your CSR programme, and it will become a part of the company’s identity and purpose.
Jackie comments, “CSR can often be seen as complex; fundamentally though it is about what you as a business can deliver for your communities that will have a positive and lasting benefit.”
Ensure leadership support
To build a successful CSR programme, you need the buy-in and support of your leadership team. Start with executive management, including the CEO and board members, and work your way down to department heads and line managers. Educate them about your CSR programme’s values and benefits and how it aligns with your business objectives. Make sure they understand the importance of prioritising your CSR programme and that they share the same passion for making a positive impact on society.
Involve and engage employees
Employees should be at the heart of your CSR programme. To get them involved, start by creating a culture of volunteerism. Encourage employees to participate in charitable events, make donations, or volunteer their time and skills. Having an active employee volunteer programme can boost employee engagement, increase job satisfaction, and build a positive image of your organisation in the community.
More importantly, give employees the opportunity to suggest CSR programmes and initiatives that align with their values and interests. This will make them feel more valued and engaged and can lead to new and innovative ideas. If this is not possible, Jackie suggests you “get employee input into the programme, and provide a menu of possibilities”.
Align with company values
Jackie comments, “Once on the social value journey, it will enhance the way the business interacts with its customers, its stakeholders, how it is positively perceived locally, and make you stand out from the crowd”. To ensure you’re standing out for the right reasons(!) it’s vital to ensure that your CSR initiatives align with your core values. For instance, if your company values diversity and inclusion, you can initiate programmes that promote gender equity or support LGBTQ+ causes. Similarly, if environmental sustainability is a core value, you can launch initiatives that reduce your carbon footprint, promote recycling, or encourage the use of public transport. Not only will you make a big difference to the world around you, but you’ll also be helping to retain your brand identity, create a positive image of your organisation, and inspire your workforce.
Establishing clear, measurable, and achievable goals is crucial. You should decide on the purpose and objective of your CSR/social value programme. For instance, if your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint, you can aim to reduce electricity consumption by 20% in the next year. Similarly, if your objective is to support underprivileged youth, you can set a goal to provide education to a specific number of children every year. Make sure your goals are realistic, relevant, and measurable.
Build a strong team
You need to get the right people on board who can take ownership of your programme and spearhead its implementation. Look for team members who are passionate about social causes, have relevant expertise, and can effectively communicate the programme’s benefits. Consider high proflle and well respected members of the workforce who can influence others to get involved.
Once you have your team in place, ensure that they are adequately trained, have access to the resources they need, and are held accountable for the programme’s success.
This is really important. Make sure you communicate the programme’s objectives, initiatives, milestones, and achievements internally as well as externally. Make it crystal clear to everyone how they can get involved and showcase the impact of your programme and how it aligns with your company’s values and mission.
You can use various mediums to promote visibility, such as your intranet, team meetings, company newsletters, CEO communication and more.
In conclusion, creating a solid CSR programme that your workforce can get behind is essential for any organisation looking to make a positive impact on society. By making CSR a priority and involving all levels of your organisation, you create a platform for your workforce to contribute meaningfully to causes they care about. This not only benefits society but also provides a sense of fulfilment and purpose for your employees. Together, your organisation and workforce can make a lasting and positive impact on the world.
VAAC is available to help businesses build their CSR/Social Value plans.
For more information on driving a happier, more productive and more engaged workforce, get in touch with Lodge Court.