Why Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Matters

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Rachel McLoughlin

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a practice that involves businesses and organisations taking voluntary actions to operate in an economically, socially, and environmentally responsible manner. CSR goes beyond the traditional focus on profit generation and considers the broader impact a company has on society and the planet. It encompasses a wide range of initiatives, policies, and programs aimed at contributing to the wellbeing of stakeholders, communities, and the environment.

The concept of CSR has emerged as a driving force for positive change. But why is it so important?


 

Positive social impact

The most fundamental reason for CSR is the potential for positive societal impact. Businesses have the resources, scale, and influence to address pressing social and environmental issues, contributing to a better world. CSR supports community development by investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure, improving living conditions and resource access for local residents. Additionally, CSR programs foster environmental conservation by promoting sustainable practices and reducing pollution. In this sense, CSR plays a pivotal role in creating a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world by actively addressing a wide range of pressing societal and environmental issues.

Charity involvement is a fundamental aspect of CSR and organisations can make a huge difference to people's lives by taking part in these initiatives. By actively engaging in philanthropy and supporting charitable causes, companies demonstrate their commitment to making a positive impact on society.

Great Place To Work partner with disability charity WALK, who believe that everyone who wants to work, have a job and a career can do so, specialising in helping those with intellectual disabilites. They aim to facilitate individuals to fulfil their employment and career aspirations by supporting them to realise their potential, access opportunities and build their own natural supports. Through getting involved with vital charities like this, employers send an important message to all potential employees, not just a select few, that they are committed to making a difference.

 

Talent attraction and brand value

Having strong CSR initiatives is a vital factor in attracting and retaining talent, especially in a candidate’s market. Talented individuals often seek employers whose values align with their own. Companies that actively engage in CSR demonstrate a commitment to social and environmental causes, which resonates with individuals who share these values. CSR initiatives can also help boost employee referrals; 92% of employees who work at a company with a strong sense of purpose say they would be more likely to recommend their employer to those in their network who are looking for a job. (1)

CSR initiatives also help to boost employee engagement in the workplace, further aiding with talent retention. Employees more often find a sense of purpose and meaning at work in organisations who invest in CSR opportunities - transcending conventional boundaries generally felt in the workplace, and making their work not "just a job". When employees understand that their organisation is actively contributing to social and environmental causes, it can motivate them, and foster a culture of responsibility and teamwork, where employees collaborate on meaningful projects that extend beyond their regular job tasks. 

Furthermore, CSR activities offer opportunities for skill development, personal growth, and community involvement, enhancing the overall job satisfaction of employees. When individuals witness their company's tangible impact on society, they feel a genuine pride in their workplace, instilling a strong sense of loyalty and alignment with the company's values. Acknowledgment and recognition for their contributions to CSR efforts further reinforce their commitment to the organisation. CSR empowers employees to be part of something larger than themselves, fostering a deeper connection to their workplace, increased engagement, and a shared commitment to creating positive change.

CSR initiatives also help build a positive brand image. Companies that actively engage in CSR are often perceived as more trustworthy and credible. Their transparency in reporting on CSR activities and achievements builds trust among stakeholders, strengthening the brand's reputation. When communicated effectively and genuinely implemented, these initiatives convey a company's commitment to ethical and responsible behaviour, further resonating positively with customers, investors and the public.

 

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Getting started

It can be difficult to know where to start when rolling out a new initiative in the workplace, but a good place to begin is by clarifying your organisation's CSR goals and values. What are the social and environmental issues that align with your company's mission? Another important starting point is gaining support and buy-in from top leadership. A great way to do this is building a cross-functional CSR team to spearhead your efforts. Engage with employees, seeking their involvement and input on potential initiatives, and consider partnerships with non-profit organisations or other businesses to amplify your impact. As you start implementing CSR activities, remember that this is a long-term commitment, and it's essential to remain transparent and constantly measure your CSR impacts to ensure you are optimising your efforts.

 

Employee volunteer programs

Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer for charitable organisations during paid work hours or through company-sponsored events. Financial services company CluneTech developed a CSR programme called CluneTech Cares, which included an Employee Volunteer Day in their benefits. Employees who receive such benefits can support activities to enhance and serve their communities. With the belief that contributing to such projects enriches the lives and promotes the wellbeing of their employees, the company sponsored 34 different causes in 2021, including the Irish Cancer Society, A Very Special Place, and Jack & Jill. Offering these initiatives provides employees with the opportunity to give back to their communities, fostering a sense of social responsibility and engagement.

In order to get the most out of CSR initiatives, it’s always important to involve employees. At TEKenable, they do this by asking for their workers’ opinions, prioritising their concerns and including them in meetings. “Specifically, to make sure that we are offering the kinds of activities that our employees enjoy and benefit from, our sports and social committee holds regular meetings and solicits feedback from the workforce,” she said. “Our CSR committee is an action team that makes sure the improvements allocated throughout the year are implemented and moving forward.”

Sustainability and green practices

Companies can adopt sustainable practices by integrating environmentally responsible principles into their operations and decision-making processes. A good way to start with this is identifying areas where sustainability improvements can be made. This might involve things like reducing energy and water consumption, minimising waste, or sourcing sustainable materials. A commitment to sustainability should be embedded into your organisation's culture and values, from top leadership to front-line employees. Implementing sustainability policies and setting clear goals and targets for reducing the company's environmental footprint is essential.

A great way to promote sustainability amongst colleagues is to set up an employee-led Green Team, just as Fáilte Ireland have done. The thinking behind the initiative was to create a positive change in behaviour among staff when it comes to sustainability and to influence and guide others in advocating for change. They initiated things like a garden biodiversity initiative, which gave staff passionate about gardening the chance to provide blogs, guidance, and tips to the organisation, and started a re-use, re-love initiative, offering advice and tips to staff on how to reuse items around the house.

 

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By embracing CSR, companies can create a positive feedback loop where they not only contribute to a better world but also strengthen their own resilience, reputation, and success. Organisations that integrate purpose into their operations are not just surviving; they are thriving. It's not just about profitability anymore; it's about purpose, people, and planet. These CSR initiatives not only contribute to social and environmental wellbeing but also positively impact the workplace culture, employee engagement, and the company's overall reputation.

 

 

 

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We help organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. We recognise Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in more than 60 countries. To join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified today.

 

 

Sources

(1) Employee Perspectives on Responsible Leadership During Crisis https://www.porternovelli.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/02_Porter-Novelli-Tracker-Wave-X-Employee-Perspectives-on-Responsible-Leadership-During-Crisis.pdf