Many factors impact the development of a company’s culture. Most notably is its mission, which is something that is driven directly from the CEO. Ostensibly, the mission of any for-profit organization is to make a profit. Lots of companies stop with that. These are the places where there are quarterly layoffs so that the numbers look better and where employees don’t have adequate office supplies. Then there are companies with robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. They tout their programs in the media, regularly report on their carbon footprints, and share their annual findings with employees, customers, and shareholders.
Why would a company take the latter approach? It doesn’t add to the bottom line. Or does it? As younger generations enter the workforce, cultural attitudes shift. And as customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and society at large hold companies accountable for their actions in the world, savvy managers respond. Some CSR initiatives include environmental programs, philanthropic efforts, ethical labor practices, or volunteering programs. Smart executives understand that CSR is critical to overall success; it provides a way to address critical business issues such as:
Improved employee engagement. If you feel like your employer is doing the right thing, you feel that by extension, you are too.
Increased employee identification with the employer’s brand. CSR is a way for companies to build and strengthen their brands. Through a robust CSR program, a company can engender a sense of pride among the employees who work there.
Improved retention. CSR can help to facilitate positive feelings among employees about their experience with a given employer. When people like where they work, they tend to stay.
Recruitment tool. A survey by the non-profit Net Impact found that 72% of students about to enter the workforce stated that a job where they can “make an impact” was important for their happiness. The workers of today and tomorrow want to know how their work will affect their communities, beyond merely helping to boost earnings per share.
More creativity. When organizations express their values and passions through CSR, employees may be inspired to develop new and better ways to do their work. This is a win-win for the employer.
Successful companies go in with a long-term commitment. Having a positive impact on societal issues such as living standards is not a “quick fix” project, nor is it a “pet” project. For job seekers, vetting out a potential employer’s commitment to CSR is yet another way to help to understand the company’s culture. Consider inquiring about the subject the next time you have a face to face interview. The response—or lack thereof—can tell you much more about what it’s like to work at a company than any recruiter ever could.
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