Wednesday, 18 January 2012

CSR and Social Impact

At the beginning of the year, it is customary to make a list of top 5s or top 10s of several global events. I thought of delving into the top 5 reasons for companies to invest in CSR as well as key success factors. Weber Shandwick and KRC Research did in fact conduct a research in October 2010 and surveyed 200 CSR executives and have come up with the following 5 reasons/ success factors:
1. Having an Impact on critical issues in society and seeing an organization's value in action
2. Non-profits as partners are vital to the success of CSR
3. Almost 90% of the executives said that Senior Leadership Support drives CSR success
4. Companies prefer to tackle multiple issues as part of their CSR (environment, education, global development etc)
5. Employee engagement and Community Engagement are equally important factors for the success of CSR efforts.

The implications of the study is immense as it reiterates several beliefs that drives CSR initiatives as well as underline the importance of stakeholder engagement - both internal and external. The fact that companies are looking beyond checkbook philanthropy  to actually making a social impact and actively engaging in societal issues is very heartening. It is also great news for Non-profit organizations as the large corporations view them as "valuable partners'  who bring in the necessary expertise. It is also good to hear that companies are concerned about a variety of critical issues spanning education, environment and many other issues aligned to their core competencies and business objectives.

Overall, the  outlook for CSR and corporates engagement with society looks positive and CSR investments are all set to increase in 2012 and beyond.

The know more about the study and its findings do visit:

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Corporate Volunteering

Corporate Volunteering is the buzz word in CSR. Many companies already have an employee volunteer program in place and many other companies are contemplating. As part of my research for this article I found that NASSCOM foundation has come up with a booklet on corporate volunteerism titled: "Volunteer in Action".  This booklet provides the 'do's and don'ts of volunteering as well as testimonials from many volunteers. The booklet only skims the surface of what is a very popular  but underutilized medium of employee motivation.

In fact, world wide there is a shift from traditional volunteering (e.g cleaning up the neighborhood, painting school walls, tree planting etc) to more technical form of volunteering aligned to Company's business vision and objectives. This is called "High Impact Volunteering". This trend to move up the corporate volunteering value chain to High Impact Volunteering include: International Employee Volunteering as well as Skill Based Volunteering.

International employee volunteering is when companies send employees from one country to work in another. This corporate citizenship strategy may be an aspect of a company’s global volunteering program in that employees from one region or market travel internationally to volunteer alongside employees in another region or market. 

Currently, only a few companies have employee volunteer programs that include opportunities to go abroad. The recent report “Global Companies Volunteering Globally” noted five large multinational firms that have publicly committed to expanding their international employee volunteer programs; BD, Dow, GSK, IBM and Pfizer. Besides the five noted in the report, a number of other companies are currently investigating or enlarging their international employee volunteering programs.

Skill based volunteering aligns employee volunteering to the strategic business motivations and leverage the corporate assets and expertise to raise the bar and result in high impact. Employee volunteering that is aligned to corporate strategy like stakeholder relations, customer focus, competitive context and leadership development have more chances of drawing on the workplace skills of employees and the company’s distinct corporate resources.

IBM’s Corporate Social Corps  is another classic example of skill based volunteering. According to Stanley Litow, the VP of  IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs as of February 2011, in just three years  IBM sent a total of 100 teams  to 20 countries around the world. These teams were made up of 1000 employees from 50 countries in which IBM works. Stanley Litow, views these ‘citizen-diplomats’ as something more than a means to making IBM more productive and profitable. These programs work towards a more civil society on a global scale, to the benefit of all. 

To summarize, Corporate Volunteering is seen as a great tool to motivate employees as well as align the Company's goals and employee skills to the needs in the community.