There has been plenty written about the importance of meaningful work over the last few years, as the corporate world attempts to harness the collective power of the growing millennial workforce. We know philanthropy and volunteerism are important to this well-educated and entrepreneurial demographic – they care about a brand’s social impact and when they care about a cause, they evangelize it.
In stark contrast, and despite that fact that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a significant priority for many organizations, business is often admonished of turning a profit at great expense to our communities. Moreover, CSR initiatives can be perceived as dishonest – snake oil designed to distract us from any potentially negative PR created through the normal course of business.
The truth is CSR and sustainability can contribute to effective business strategies that can create long term shareholder value when executed effectively. Every organization will have a unique viewpoint on what CSR means and their approach will vary. Many industries are heavily dependent on environmental sustainability and/or community development for their own long term viability and it’s just good business to build strong relationships with all stakeholders. In other cases, organizations may have sweat equity in improving the lives of others and building strong communities from another perspective. Whatever the driving force behind CSR or sustainability efforts within your organization, aligning your CSR strategy with your employer brand is essential to maximizing your investment of time and resources in both areas. There is real magic to be made when an organization is able to marry their business strategy, core values and societal aspirations in a way that truly inspires employees. As anyone who has been lucky enough to experience that perfect synergy can tell you, authentic corporate altruism can never be construed as anything but genuine.
CSR makes good business sense and it matters to employees, prospective talent and customers. It’s not a concern reserved only for the growing numbers of millennials in the workplace, though you may see a higher level of engagement within this group. Do you have a CSR strategy? Is it aligned with your employer brand, values, and vision? An effective CSR program aligned with your employer brand will create shared value for both your organization and community. The results? A powerful and meaningful employer brand message to be shared inside and outside your organization.