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The benefits of focused CSR
Organisations have long understood the value of Corporate Social Responsibility as a way to be actively involved with society at large while making the world a better place. However, it is easy for companies to fall into the trap of simply to be seen to be doing the right thing instead of active involvement with a charity, which results in increased employee engagement and is in line with the organisation’s purpose, identity and values. A well-chosen and properly executed CSR program creates a win/win situation for the charity and the company.
Over the years we’ve been involved in many different CSR programs but we began to realise that what we wanted was missing, namely employee engagement.
A few of our CSR programs include the workshops for the NSW Asylum Seeker Centre, Biggest Morning Tea for the Cancer Council, Daffodil Day, BBQs for ShareCare, Breast Cancer Awareness month and a variety of other initiatives. Aligning the company with one particular charity doesn’t mean we can’t work with other organisations. However, we believe that by partnering with one charity and dedicating 80% of our commitment, we enable the charity to do a lot more and our employees benefit because they can see exciting results time and time again. However, by supporting a variety of charities with the remaining 20% of our efforts, we ensure employees are able to find a cause that they are passionate about.
We adopted The Smith Family as our main CSR program in September 2016, after careful consideration. In a relatively short time, $38,000 was raised via the 2016 Stepathlon, 2016 & 2017 AFL breakfast auction & raffle, Wolgan Valley Accommodation silent auction, Easter egg raffle, bingo, table tennis tournament, 2017 Spartan Race, the New York Marathon, which I’ve just run and the Melbourne Marathon.
We have opportunities for our employees to do everything from delivering Christmas hampers to mentoring Smith Family kids through their e-mentoring initiative, and attending graduation events for the Learning for Life program which includes attendees like the Prime Minister.
Purpose and Values
A second aspect worth considering is to ensure the CSR programs line up with a company’s purpose and values. In ‘The Truth about CSR’ in the Harvard Business Review, the authors highlight the importance of bringing coherence to existing programs. After surveying 142 managers who attended Harvard Business School’s CSR executive education program, they concluded that companies ‘must reduce or eliminate initiatives that do not address an important social or environmental problem in keeping with the company’s purpose, identity, and values.’
Page is a meritocratic organisation, so we believe in giving people a chance based on ability and talent. We love what The Smith Family is doing because it’s all about giving 38,000 Australian kids a better opportunity through education. These kids are hampered by the hardships their family circumstances impose on them.
For PageGroup, working with The Smith Family has become more than a CSR program as it has effectively grown into a living partnership, benefiting both the charity and the company.
A final aspect, one that is often overlooked, is the active involvement of the top levels of executive management as it is critical to success.
In ‘The Truth about CSR,’ the authors highlight the decisive action by CEO Jim Rohr of the PNC Bank who had a long-standing commitment to early childhood education and initiated the Grow Up Great initiative, which provides school-readiness resources to underserved populations where the bank operates. The employees were eager to engage with a local cause and the program aligned with the bank’s community-development-oriented identity.
Until the advent of the program, each PNC market had a CSR budget that regional managers allocated as they thought best, resulting in a well-intentioned but incoherent array of initiatives. By pruning its disparate CSR programs, gradually easing out those without an early education focus, and encouraging regional managers to redirect their discretionary budgets to early education, PNC has built a well-funded initiative that correlates better with its employees’ motivations and is likely to yield significant benefits to the communities the bank serves and relies on.’
Globally, a trend has emerged for companies to embrace CSR because many businesses have realised the importance of making a difference and having a social impact. In an article entitled ‘Why emerging multinationals are embracing social responsibility,’ companies such as Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase are evidence of global corporates taking their social responsibility seriously.
It should be said though that it doesn’t mean all companies should engage in similar CSR programs since different factors must be considered, including the industry and the social environment in which a business operates as well as the motivations of the people who staff, run, and govern each company.
‘The Truth about CSR’ sums it up like this: ‘Best-practices companies operate coordinated and interdependent programs across the CSR portfolio. Some of their initiatives indeed create shared value; some, though intended to do so, create more value for society than for the firm; and some are intended to create value primarily for society. Yet all have one thing in common: They are aligned with the companies’ business purpose, the values of the companies’ important stakeholders, and the needs of the communities in which the companies operate.’
Want to work for a company with a strong CSR focus? Join PageGroup.