Aligning Corporate Social Responsibility with a purpose

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The world today is a study of contrast. On one side we have a billion odd people struggling with health problems like obesity, on the other billion are going to bed hungry every night. What is worthy to note however, in such a scenario is that the omnipresence of communications channels, has ensured that more people than ever are aware of this painful reality. And that a lot of us are keen to do something for the ones who don’t have it all.

Employees are looking for a meaning in their lives and are looking at the workplace as the source of that meaning. From Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers having a sense of purpose in the workplace is becoming extremely important. They want to make the world a better place, and expect their employer to do the same. Companies are now expected to demonstrate how their mission statement and their action are thereby helping create a tangibly better environment for the people and the world at large,

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is therefore not just a Government mandate but is becoming a strong catalyst in helping connect with employees. A purpose in business is a growing trend that is actually shifting our way of thinking about employee engagement. Organizations are aligning their employee engagement accordingly and thereby internal communications policies are now more articulative in communicating, instilling and reinforcing their fundamental sense of purpose. The workforce is looking beyond profit motive. Its lot more about social or environmental stewardship, reputational value.

Corporate social responsibility addresses a number of needs that an employee is seeking to fulfill predominantly through purpose and pride. Employee engagement through CSR is now playing a critical role reflects a similar pattern as of Maslow’s hierarchy, where human beings essentially satisfy a sequence of needs in succession. It starts with foundational needs that’s met through the mission of the organization, it’s leadership and management; followed by physical needs met through compensation; safety needs met through enablement and good workspace; caring needs through belonging, communication, teamwork and collaboration; self-esteem through diversity, integrity, ethics, respect, and innovation; culminating with working to potential at the pinnacle.

It’s not the size and thereby the CSR budget of the organisation that shapes the purpose, its more the intent and involvement. Company can take up various steps to make the CSR agenda a more Inclusive one to address employees needs. The foundational level can be addressed by being socially conscious and committed and demonstrating leadership involvement. For physical it’s important for being there for the community and make the program accessible to the staff. Safety and Care comes from aligning the employees interest with that of the organization and foster team work towards a cause and finally the self-esteem can be addressed by nurturing the purpose in one’s life.

Demonstrate leadership involvement

If social initiatives are to succeed, the company leadership must believe it is the right thing to do and that business should do the right thing. Employees always want to follow a sustainable path led by the leader. Progressive organizations use CSR goals to help leaders to lead with purpose and enhance a mission-driven culture. For employees working with the leaders on any social agenda serves as an immense motivator, similarly team-based community involvement help leaders connect with co-workers at a much more personal level. Where there’s purpose, there’s a sense of meaning and value. When theorganization leadership team demonstrate their commitment towards a cause, it generates incredible goodwill for the company. We had a live example at Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) where our Managing Director inspired the team to participate in a 100 kms walking challenge for a charity to be completed in 48 hours. He motivated many in the company, quite a few of whom were first time walkers, to complete the challenge with much conviction.

Considering what interest the employees

In 2014, a survey on CSR conducted by rating agency Nielsen found that as many as 67% surveyors desired to work with socially responsible companies. Organization’s CSR goals are best realized when they are aligned with the employees’ ideology too. However, the challenge is one-size-doesn’t fits-all. As it turns out, people feels for reasons that are uniquely personal to them: To eradicate an illness that has affected a loved one, to champion a cause they feel inexplicably drawn to. To understand what really are there in employees’ mind, at D&B, we launched a branch wide campaign “Manifestation of Dream” where employees were asked to vote for the cause they feel closest to. And based on the result of the campaign, we took up education as the primary focus sector, which also aligns with our objective in driving global prosperity by facilitating business growth, leading to more jobs, high living standards and better quality of life.



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