Five Ways You Can Improve Your CSR NOW!
Cork Foundation are delighted to feature guest articles on our website. The article below by Gina London has appeared in the most recent edition of Council Review.
Gina London is an Emmy-winning veteran CNN anchor and correspondent who now serves as an International Communications and Employee Engagement Strategist. She is based in Cork where she serves a variety of multi-national clients.
You don’t have to work for Microsoft, Google or Disney – companies with top reputations for CSR – to know how important Corporate Social Responsibility is.
The notion is making headlines all the time in premier business magazines like Harvard Business Review and here at Council Review!
And recent results reported in the largest global study of company reputations indicate that CSR is the key driver of a company’s public image.
Company reputations increasingly dependent on CSR
The 2016 Global RepTrak report from the Boston-based Reputation Institute tracked more than 240,000 ratings of organizations around their products and services, governance and innovation.
Their research indicates that more than ever, customers and employees are looking to a company’s CSR brand to form a positive perception. In fact, the fastest growing emphasis from the general public is in the specific CSR areas of governance, citizenship and workplace. Improving positive perception can lead to higher sales, employee engagement and attraction of better talent.
The top-ranked companies here in Ireland according to Reputation Institute are, in order, Bord Bia, Easons, An Post, Google and Lidl.
Even further, an Economist survey noted 74 percent of its respondents saying that corporate citizenship, which is another term for CSR, can help increase profits at their company.
How to improve your CSR
Where your own organization may rank on the CSR scale likely depends less upon the list of charities to which you contribute and more upon how holistic your approach to CSR is.
As an international communications and leadership strategist and consultant, who has worked with Fortune 100 companies like Pfizer, McKesson and Wells Fargo, here are my top five recommendations to help you and your organization focus and improve your CSR.
- Integrate CSR – From top to bottom, how inter-connected and inter-twined are your CSR
strands? Do they radiate from your vision statement to the desks of each employee? Step back and carefully examine your vision statement. Does it capture element of doing social good? Does it capture anything at all? Messaging, by definition, should be repeatable, emotional, brief and clear. If your vision isn’t “visionary” and can’t be repeated by your employees, you should consider updating and refining it.
Next, audit and assess how you are communicating your sustainable business goals throughout your organization. Take surveys. The answers may surprise and re-direct you.
- Formalize Environmental and Social Justice – Integrating CSR into the corporate culture of a business takes a formal process. Addressing climate change and social justice can and should become part of this process.
Many indicators suggest the success of political climate change efforts depends on influence from the private sector. Businesses are no longer adversaries, they are drivers.
They’re drivers to of equalizing gender, sexual preference and family issues. For instance, in Ireland, fewer than 11 percent of women are on the boards of listed companies. By taking on this and other statistics of inequality head on, a brand can distinguish itself from the pack and lead the way toward empowering all of its employees.
As the World Business Council for Sustainable Development says, “Business cannot succeed in societies that fail.”
- Encourage Employees to Turn Off – I recently toured the massive Dublin compound of offices that house Google. From its on-site medical clinic, gym and swimming pool to the free coffee bars and myriad of healthy snack drawers, employees’ needs appeared to be taken well into consideration. “That’s because they want their employees never to leave!” scoffed a friend when I mentioned how impressed I was. But in today’s mobile device world of always being connected, aren’t all employees everywhere working at a Hotel California?
We used to call it “burn-out,” but now it’s more like constant stimulation overload. Such overloaded employees should be encouraged to take breaks. So, I noted Google also provides real swing sets and relax-pods. Promoting reflection, refreshment and re-charging is essential. Unlike the Eagles’ famed hotel, help your employees to check-out and really leave. If only temporarily.
- Structure Cross Collaboration When departments get out of silos and stretch horizontally to become more communicative, everyone benefits. I’ve been working for the past six months with a top company to flatten its structure to cross and combine skills toward common goals. This goes for companies as well. Since 2014, for example, Marks and Spencer, Nike, General Motors, along with a growing host of other top businesses, formed a coalition committed to fighting climate change under the unified banner, We Mean Business.
Open source yourself and your company. The world will thank you for it. And so will your employees and customers.
- Teach and Deploy Storytelling – How do you captivate EVERY audience? Through vivid storytelling. Sure, you can include detail points and data – but only as support for your story. Not as the story itself.
And don’t relegate story-telling for only your external marketing materials. From monthly internal communications meetings, to quarterly client update reports, this is the way every presentation should be approached. There is no excuse for EVER putting up a boring Powerpoint slide full of text. If you have to apologize for your slide, it shouldn’t be shown. Full stop. Interactive Design and
This applies to any company – no matter what the industry. For inspiration, take a look at Voxpro’s “Step Inside” video on its website which provides a vibrant peek into why this Irish-based BPO with offices now in the US is successfully setting itself apart as a providing “Beautiful Customer Experience.”
Finally, getting into the habit of rich storytelling will, of course, enable you to best tell your own CSR story.
While not a new term, CSR continues to grow in importance. With many Millennials settling down, starting families and looking to make ethical purchases, promoting your organization’s corporate social responsibility is quite-simply expected and should not be underestimated in value.