Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has evolved over recent years. From a start-point of reducing environmental impact and costs it now represents a more expansive view of business being a force for good and making a positive contribution to local communities and the wider world.
As a result, CSR is increasingly being incorporated into business plans and built into organisations’ purpose. In well-established businesses it is being used to refresh strategy and as a tool for differentiation. For challenger brands CSR offers a foundation upon which products and messaging are built.
While some companies worry that CSR could threaten financial performance, a growing body of evidence suggests it actually provides numerous benefits and goes hand-in-hand with sustained growth and profitability. When you look at the areas that are touched by CSR – workplace, community, environment, marketplace – it is easy to see why this is the case. Some obvious examples of commercial benefit include savings through smarter energy use and waste reduction, but more unexpected results include the positive effect on employee productivity and talent retention.
Companies that embrace CSR often develop a highly engaged culture, providing meaning and purpose for employees and greater job satisfaction. Employees that are fully involved in and supportive of a company’s CSR strategy often experience a greater sense of pride in the business they work for, are more likely to engage in co-operative behaviours and feel more inspired to develop new and better ways of working. CSR often fosters a greater commitment to the organisation and a willingness to go the extra mile.
Can CSR influence culture?
For CSR to influence the culture of a business it must be recognised as an authentic commitment. It can’t sit in a silo, be used as PR stunt, or be viewed by senior leadership as a ‘tick-box’ exercise for the Annual Report. Business leaders must set the platform for CSR, and the related initiatives must form an integral part of the strategic toolbox. The strategy then needs to be truly embedded into what a company stands for and the messaging consistent if it is to influence behaviours, values and decision making processes.
Greater employee engagement and a strong ‘business purpose’ logically have a positive impact on talent attraction and retention. This is of particular relevance to Millennials – who are set to represent 50% of the global workforce by 2020 – many of who view a company’s commitment to responsible business practice as a key factor in their employment decisions.
But looking for purpose and a job that delivers a positive social impact is not exclusive to the millennial generation. Increasingly candidates of all ages are looking for more meaning from their jobs. Top talent want to use their skills and creativity to make an impact in organisations that see beyond ‘business as usual’. Many people want to make a difference.
When CSR successfully becomes an integral part of a business it can be built into job descriptions, objectives and the overall people strategy, emphasising its importance to existing employees and the external market. When this commitment is stretched further and CSR is incorporated into leadership development, it can enhance a mission-driven culture and create a generation of leaders with the purpose and ambition to push the CSR agenda even harder in the future.
To discuss how to leverage your CSR initiatives to enhance your talent attraction and retention strategy contact Katie Hart at Berwick Partners.