Looking good or doing good? Corporate caring from the inside out

By Mike Yearling, VP  ̶  Sales and Marketing

Companies of all sizes have plenty of choices to make about their corporate caring and community involvement work. Besides choosing which organizations to support and in what way, a fundamental question is, “How authentic are you in your corporate caring efforts?” While many companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts genuinely reflect their people’s collective vision for changing the world, there are others that take part in corporate caring reactively, or worse, mostly for the publicity.

Corporate social responsibility is sometimes a tacked-on afterthought given the demands of our day jobs. Either we do the best we can to support charitable requests coming in throughout the year or we make end-of-year donations in time for the holidays.

Today, leading companies are becoming much more genuine and purposeful in their community investments. Instead of simply donating to a cause, corporate caring efforts are woven directly into a company's fabric as a key part of how it operates and grows. CSR has shifted focus from good spin to good works, and being much more hands-on in making the world a better place.

Here are three ways to be more mindful and authentic with your corporate caring initiatives:

  1. Dovetail your efforts with your brand. When choosing CSR initiatives, consider those that mesh seamlessly and authentically with your brand while linking to your company’s strategic goals. Random, one-off projects that don’t have a bigger place in your firm simply won’t have lasting impact. At Mills James for example, we’ve focused our efforts as a creative media company on helping nonprofit organizations tell their story. This syncs up what we do with what we give.
     
  2. Engage your employees. Employees value a company with a good reputation for corporate social responsibility. Millennials in particular have a strong connection to volunteerism and charitable giving. A 2015 Cone Communications study found that 62 percent of millennials would rather work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary would be less than at other companies. In a 2015 Deloitte survey, six out of 10 millennials said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. Companies are finding they can attract top talent, improve retention and keep employees motivated with corporate caring as an employee engagement strategy.
     
  3. Create something that lasts. Superficial corporate social programs promote skepticism and the perception that the efforts are one-offs. Employees, clients and customers can tell when a company is simply cutting a check and isn’t fully invested in a cause. Make an impression on your stakeholders by creating an enduring corporate caring agenda that is designed to make significant community change. Not just for months, but for years.

Forward-thinking companies are looking at corporate caring as an opportunity to strengthen their businesses while contributing to society at the same time. They find meaning and inspiration in their corporate programs to contribute to social causes beyond their businesses. Doing good can help companies do well, but only when their efforts are authentic, credible and long-lasting.

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