For companies operating in diverse global communities, CSR is both challenging and exciting. It?s challenging in a way that there will never be enough resources to meet the enormity of the needs. In turn, it?s exciting because partnerships can be formed to leverage contributions and engage the heart of your employees. Leveraging is maximized by working across business and department lines to engage the entire enterprise.
What does it mean to internalize CSR?
The number one reason I’ve seen companies fail at maximizing community impact is because they did not invest in learning and valuing where their business and societal interests overlap. Businesses feel a pressure that they are expected to find a solution for many of the world?s environmental and societal problems. While it is becoming increasingly important to customers, it’s unrealistic to think your business can be everything to everyone; that?s where a strategic focus in tying the businesses intellectual capital with financial contributions comes into play.
How can your business internalize CSR?
Bring in an expert
An objective 360 degree assessment of your company?s current reality will give you new insights to guide your community investment goals. An expert will be able to identify your company’s strengths and build a community investment blueprint that connects the core of your business to an overarching need that exists in the communities where your employees live and work.
Develop sound partnerships
To maintain a strong community presence in key markets, align with similarly minded business, nonprofit and government entities that support your company?s community investment vision. You may run into some constraints depending on the unique needs of each community, and if you have a partner with similar invested interests, you?ll have greater resources (both human and financial) to address unforeseen challenges.
Build a creative trust?
Think of CSR as an evolving effort. Once you have a strategic community investment plan in place, there is no rule that you cannot adjust and refine your practices. The experience of every employee involved in carrying out a responsibility to meet the plan’s objectives will be different. Establish a process for gathering employee and other stakeholder?s feedback. If you truly internalize CSR and value the feedback, new ideas will begin to flourish and a broad-based sense of ownership will prevail. This will help you sustain your efforts despite the constant changing political, economic and social environments in diverse global communities.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate
Any CSR plan is incomplete without an effective communication plan. Your communication strategies should consider your internal and external audiences. Highlight the program?s strengths and accomplishments. Develop communication strategies for reaching your various stakeholders and employees to earn their support and increased engagement. Creating and executing a communications plan is equally as important as the process that goes into developing a CSR plan. Without effective communication, your corporate social responsibility will fall short of building your brand to help you meet business objectives.
Jean Galloway is the founder and owner of Galloway Group, based in Denver, Colorado. Galloway Group is a business consultancy focused on corporate citizenship. Since 2000, Galloway Group has been a specialist and thought leader in the growing field of community relations and corporate social responsibility. Galloway Group has worked with national and global clients such as CH2M HILL, MillerCoors, First Data, Great-West, Xcel, Western Union and Wells Fargo. Galloway Group partners with clients to explore new possibilities for building their brand and enhancing their business through the integration of corporate social responsibility with traditional marketing and communications.