Corporate social responsibility isn’t just a trendy idea or a way to boost company PR; it has become a cornerstone of good business. Responsible and ethical practices foster goodwill and higher profits. And those effects are redoubled when employees adopt what were once C-suite values.
While the idea of getting everyone from board members to executives to middle managers and workers on the same page can be daunting, there’s a business case for taking on the challenge. Writing on Entrepreneur.com, Robert Glazer, CEO of the marketing firm Acceleration Partners, makes that case and proposes some simple ideas for how to build values into the core of your company at every level.
Getting employees involved can decrease turnover. A study by Benevity has shown that churn can drop by up to 57% when volunteerism and donations are part of the corporate mission. What could be better than a healthy population of engaged employees?
One way to get everyone onboard with initiatives that tap hot-button issues is by grounding them in universal ideas. This technique allows companies to take steps in controversial areas without causing undue friction. For example, Jelmar President and CEO Alison Gutterman says she avoids explicitly talking about gun control by focusing on the fact that everyone can agree that children should be safe at school. Rooting work in common ground keeps everyone focused on goals that make sense to them.
Glazer also says that sustainability should be as much of a goal as sales.
Certainly, it makes sense to strive for profitably as a company. However, it’s critical for businesses to make firm commitments to doing good, which will add meaning for customers who sympathize with your cause.
At 2920 Sleep, a direct-to-consumer mattress business, the company donates test products to local shelters to build goodwill within the community and reduce waste, as these products would otherwise end up in the landfill. Karim O’Driscoll, head of product development and operations, notes that the 2920 Sleep team also donates 1% of its revenues to green causes. “It boils down to making the commitment real for your employees and your customers,” O’Driscoll says.”
Broadening your approach to include volunteer work through local non-profits helps can help strengthen employee commitment as well, Glazer wrote.
A survey from Korngold Consulting reveals how much participants get from the experience. Volunteers reported that serving with people from a variety of backgrounds improved their empathy by 76 percent and their respect for these individuals’ perspectives even more. For a corporation seeking workforce buy-in for its ethical measures, this finding illustrates how important service can be.