- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
As the Community Service Chair for the American University chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, I decided to put a spin on one of our five core values – Service.
Most of our members are in-it-for-the-money business majors, more interested in watching the Wall Street ticker than getting their hands dirty serving the community. In mid-April, I invited five professionals working in the corporate social responsibility field to discuss motivations behind corporate citizenship to a panel at American University. The motive behind this event was to inform college students, recent graduates, and business professionals that doing good isn’t just about satisfying a core value of a professional business fraternity - it’s about employee satisfaction, understanding the community where your business operates, and the double bottom line.
And the expert opinion is in. Below are a few tips and main points the panelists shared with the audience, and I am eager to share with you.
Getting Employees Involved
Many companies pride themselves on having strong company values invested in giving back to the community. But how do you get your employees to feel the same way? According to Kristen Pierson-Stockton, Associate Director of Workplace Solutions at KPMG, LLP, it begins during the hiring process. Being socially responsible continues to be important to the KPMG community because employees already value corporate citizenship before they walk in the door.
What if your company doesn’t assess potential candidates CSR values during the interview? In order to get employees active, companies should offer employees an assortment of opportunities to give back. And this doesn’t just mean choosing between the local Breast Cancer Walk and the AIDS Walk. It means understanding that some employees want to get their hands dirty by cleaning up the environment and painting murals, while others would prefer to simply write a check to their favorite charity.
The panelists also spoke about the importance of providing opportunities for employees who want to devote time to probono efforts, using their skills as an accountant or manager to assist non-profits and community organizations.
Don’t Kill the Messenger
According to Elizabeth Sullivan, Director of Corporate Services at the Council on Foundations, “the messenger matters.” Leaders in an organization have the capacity to influence their organization by sharing a personal story about why a particular cause is important. Passionate CEOs, managers, and other organizational leaders do not only reap financial profits through CSR programs, but succeed in creating happy employees who love where they work. Who doesn’t want that? Bill Walker of DelCor Technology Solutions believes that a major opportunity can be lost if the CEO does not share his or her passion with the rest of the company.
Professor Heather Elms of the Kogod School of Business at American University spoke on the importance of the consumer to hold businesses accountable. All too often we ask, “What can businesses do to be more responsible? How should a business give back to local and international communities?” We must remember that businesses succeed because they found a need and fulfilled it. Consumer trends are changing and we now expect businesses to be socially responsible. But how do we change businesses which are polluting our environment, treating employees poorly, and creating unsustainable products? Professor Elms advocates that we should not buy products from these companies. We should not invest our human capital working for these companies. The businesses that do not change, will not survive. Survival of the fittest – Power of the people.
Guest blogger Michelle Holleran is an intern at the Case Foundation.