Part 4 of 7: Is Your Corporation Socially Responsible?

If you have been following this series you know that I recently posted a Corporate Diagnostic Chart to assess the health of your corporate environment.  It examines the 7 key elements that determine the state of your corporate environment.  They are foundation, communication, culture, community, transparency, awareness and values.

This post is part 4, in a 7 part series, where we are exploring each element of the corporate environment in a little more depth.  At the end of the series I will post an extensive survey that will further help you diagnose your company’s environment.

Our focus today is on the 4th element, community.  Your community governs corporate social responsibility (CSR), compassion and development of a higher sense of purpose.  Historically, social responsibility was left to the not-for-profit companies but I am happy to say that is no longer the case, there are many organizations today that are very passionate about giving back to their community in creative meaningful ways.  Investing in a CSR strategy benefits much more than the community, it has a positive impact on your brand, employee experience, customer experience, communications and customer loyalty.  Without as CSR strategy you are more likely to encounter a lack of teamwork and team spirit as well as a general lack of compassion for one another and your customers.

In 2008 Chris McClean of Forrester published  How The World’s Leading Businesses Address Corporate Social Responsibility. Chris says “Corporate behavior is approaching celebrity status. Executive scandals, product recalls, unethical labor practices, and environmental disasters are more closely scrutinized than ever, and the information age does not permit incidents to be swept easily under the rug. As employees, investors, customers, and partners pay more attention to corporate responsibility, companies are responding by strengthening and reporting their efforts related to environmental, social, and economic issues. “

One such company is KPMG, they have made their CSR strategy a priority.  A few years ago Forrester completed a case study on KPMG’s CSR strategy, the study shares that “In 2008, KPMG set a number of corporate wide environmental goals, including a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2010.”  Their CSR strategy is aligned to their vision, mission and values.  “We have a clear vision of the role of KPMG firms. We believe we should use our skills and our resources to become fully involved in finding sustainable solutions to global and local issues, working alongside governments, civil society groups and international agencies. This vision is in line with our values — where we make a commitment to the communities in which we work.” Says Micheal Hastings, Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity, KPMG International.  KPMG has numerous key leadership roles dedicated to corporate citizenship world wide.

Adobe is another company with a demonstrated commitment to the social community.  I think many would be pleasantly surprised to learn the extent to which Adobe has invested in their corporate social responsibility.    “Adobe supports strategic programs and partnerships that help make our communities better, stronger, and more vibrant places in which to live, work, and do business.”  They have community giving programs that include grants, an employee volunteer program and a software donation and training programs.  In addition Adobe has it’s own foundation ” Adobe Youth Voices their global signature philanthropy program designed to provide youth in underserved communities with the critical skills they need to become active and engaged members of their communities and the world at large.” A powerful example of this at play took place on February 5th 2009 when the Adobe Foundation, the Black Eyed Peas and the Entertainment Industry Foundation announced a new partnership to help underserved youth access and learn to use multi-media production tools, including those for video, dance, music and art, to comment on critical issues and spark social change in their communities. The collaboration was highlighted with a benefit concert hosted and performed in Los Angeles by the Black Eyed Peas and other musical artists. This is corporate social  responsibility at it’s best!

Anne Lewnes, SVP Global Marketing at Adobe recently blogged “CSR is a great opportunity for all companies to strengthen their brand and connection to their customers. Companies should choose a cause close to their product and culture, so there is good alignment, and they shouldn’t be shy about promoting their CSR cause to their customers. Our own research has shown that our customers really want to know more about what Adobe is doing in the CSR space, so we’re going to continue to get the word out.”

There a many more companies doing great by their community but where do you start if you have not yet developed a CSR strategy? Or if you do have one and want to improve it, what is the best approach? On the highest level you need to ensure it is aligned to your corporate mission, vision and values.  Here are a few helpful tips to help shape your strategy:

  • Ideally it should leverage your core products or services
  • Invite your employees to actively participate
  • Be sure to consider your employee community, solicit what is important to them, you can extend this to your customers as well
  • Consider what would improve your own internal environment, it is ok to benefit from your CSR strategy
  • Explore partnering with other corporations
  • Develop and invest in your CSR strategy the same way you would approach a for-profit strategy, it is important to measure and validate the impact

Is your company doing anything innovative for it’s community? If so please share!