By Steve Segarra
Chief Technical Officer
Employees expect more from their jobs than a paycheck. Some are after greater flexibility while others are looking for a closer fit to their social and ethical values. Shareholders expect organizations to be profitable but also to contribute to their communities in positive ways. Business leaders likely have witnessed these shifts first-hand and maybe even been tasked with helping their organization evolve.
As the number of vaccinated individuals increases and companies find their way back to the office, it’s hard to ignore how the corporate landscape is changing. Forbes predicts a “great resignation” where many employees will start looking for a new job in the next few months. In fact, the Labor Department reported that nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April alone.
In a 2019 Gallup study; Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all rated, “having an ethical leadership” among the top three things they look for in an employer. The older generations likely associate this with the personal character of their leaders while younger employees are concerned with how a company impacts people and the planet. According to the study, Gen Z and younger Millennials (who now make up 46% of the full-time U.S. workforce) “expect bold action [from their employer] to address moral blind spots…they want to know that the work they are doing has a net positive impact on human beings and the natural world.”
Those values are at the core of corporate social responsibility. There’s no denying that it’s a job-seeker’s market so it’s imperative that companies create the kind of work environment that attracts and retains the best talent, optimizes existing resources, and drives better performance from every asset – including employees.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Investopedia defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as:
“…practices and policies undertaken by corporations that are intended to have a positive influence on the world. The key idea behind CSR is for corporations to pursue other pro-social objectives, in addition to maximizing profits.”
That said, not all companies can approach CSR the same way. It is important to know what niche your company occupies and what existing and future employees expect.
A great example is how Bloomberg L.P. responded in its 2020 Impact Report:
“Governments are eager to respond to the fallout from the pandemic in ways that make their economies stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. Business leaders recognize the risks they face and understand that the same steps that cut carbon emissions also help to spur growth and promote stability. The year ahead can set the stage for a decade of transformational change—but only if we act boldly and urgently.”
In the past few decades, more business leaders have recognized a need to do more than maximize profits for shareholders and executives. In order to remain relevant and competitive, they have embraced a social responsibility to do what’s best for their company, community, society at large, and the planet.
Five Reasons for Embracing CSR
Implementing strong corporate social responsibility initiatives may improve overall business by:
- Giving new and existing employees confidence that they are part of an organization that is socially responsible. A 2016 study showed 55% of employees would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if it meant a lower salary.
- Creating a work environment that is safe and healthy for employees. According to a Project ROI Study, your CSR program could increase employee engagement by up to 7.5%, increase employee productivity by 13%, and reduce employee turnover by 50%.
- Minimizing your organization’s environmental impact, which can lead to greater overall financial stability. Starbucks began its rollout of the “strawless lid” in 2020 and is working to be 100% strawless in its more than 29,000 stores worldwide.
- Strengthening customer loyalty by showing a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. In a 2017 study, 76% of consumers say they will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
- Bolstering your corporate image, building your brand, improving morale, and increasing job satisfaction. Fast Company named its top 10 most innovative CSR companies of 2021.
Implementing CSR Initiatives with Integrated Tech
Where does an organization start? Your CSR strategy could start slowly, focusing on just compliance or sustainability. Or the focus can be on energy management and using building resources more efficiently. If safety is your greatest concern, you may start with waste management, hazard abatement, and managing hazardous materials to better support employee health and wellbeing.
Whatever the priority, technology like an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) enables you to start simple and evolve into a strategy that puts your organization at the forefront of innovation. An IWMS helps keep operations running efficiently and nurture an environment that lets employees do their best work.
A powerful IWMS provides myriad functions and features to support CSR goals:
- Compliance – Helps keep facilities and employees compliant with regulations to mitigate risk, maintain safe environments, and reduce administrative burdens.
- Sustainability – Recognizes the strategic value of reducing carbon footprints to protect the environment and enhance a company’s bottom line.
- Energy Management – Provides the means to easily aggregate, evaluate, and optimize energy and utility spending decisions to reduce unnecessary consumption and costs.
- Green Buildings – Aids in delivering the information framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and managing the environmental sustainability certification and recertification process.
- Waste Management – Provides a streamlined and integrated approach to tracking, managing, and reducing both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
- Hazard Abatement – Helps protect the health of building occupants, minimize organizational liability, and avoid costly fines or possible litigation.
- Hazardous Materials – Supports facilities managers in safely handling toxic products, verifying compliance with various regulations, and informing first responders where those hazardous materials are stored and what they may encounter during an emergency.
And let’s not forget the impact the pandemic has had on real estate portfolios. Some organizations are cutting their carbon footprint by cutting back on their space. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, we must eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment by 2040. Buildings generate almost 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. An IWMS can help these organizations easily right-size their portfolios.
Corporate Social Responsibility: No Longer Optional
There is little doubt that CSR programs have a place in every organization. The number of companies implementing CSR plans increases by the year. A Harvard Business School report found that in 2011, less than 20% of S&P 500 companies were charting their efforts related to CSR and sustainability. In 2014, it soared to 75% and jumped to 90% in 2019.
Creating and implementing initiatives with a mission to improve people’s lives, the Earth, and its resources is a new standard to which investors, employees, and consumers are holding organizations. And as a business leader, your responsibility to actualize these plans is no small feat. The right kind of technology can make all the difference to your success.
Organizations are quickly evolving to meet the high expectations of doing business amidst a global crisis. They must adapt business models, hire and retain top talent, and give back to their communities in meaningful ways in order to stay successful and relevant. If you are implementing or reinventing your organization’s CSR plans, click here to learn more about how an IWMS supports the social and moral values employees have come to expect from today’s businesses.
Keep reading: What is IWMS Software?