“Corporate Social Responsibility is measured in terms of business improving the conditions for their employees, shareholders, communities and environments.”
Klaus Schwab, economist and founder of the World Economic Forum
An increasing number of employers are realising that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are becoming ever more important to their employees, investors and business networks. There is almost an expectation that, in the current socio-political climate, business and altruism should go hand-in-hand. This doesn’t infer that companies are begrudged their profit margins, but there is more interest in how they are choosing to re-invest their money.
Social enterprises, for example Josh Littlejohn’s Social Bite, are capable of creating a media storm. Customers, investors and entrepreneurs are amazed and inspired by such acts of kindness. Whilst not all businesses are set up to feed the homeless or welcome the marginalised, there is an increasing expectation that businesses do more in their wider community. Many employees – prospective and current – look to MDs and CEOs in expectation of details of charity events; be that fundraisers, sponsored days or team activities. It is something that many believe should be built in to the very heart of a company’s core values. But, is that easier said than done?
“If a brand genuinely wants to make a social contribution, it should start with who they are, not what they do. For only when a brand has defined itself and its core values can it identify causes or social responsibility initiatives that are in alignment with its authentic brand story.”
Simon Mainwaring, social media specialist and founder of We First
It is a relatively straightforward exercise to encourage your employees to fundraise or volunteer for a particular charity. But have you thought about why you have chosen this specific charity? What correlation is there between its values and those of your company? Is it local; will it benefit your community directly? Is it challenging the stereotypes and inequities that your business also rails against?
An important place to start in this decision-making process is to clearly outline to your employees, stakeholders and suppliers what your core values are. This marketing exercise is not something that you can conclude overnight; it’s something that can be built on and distilled over a period of months. Feedback from your employees as to what they believe your values to be will be crucial. Here at HRC Recruitment, our company values are defined as: Integrity, Teamwork, Wisdom, Commitment and Excellence.
Your company values should inform how every part of your business performs and how you communicate both internally and externally. This isn’t to suggest that you should spend hours, laboriously pouring over local charities, wracked with guilt about not being able to align your core company message with theirs. Every business is going to have a different message and different goals. And, sometimes, it is appropriate to be reactive. For example, many in our team read about the number of Scottish families struggling on low incomes and promptly organised a business-wide drop to our local food bank. Or, during Christmas time, we organised gifts for children of all ages across Glasgow as part of the One Parent Families festive campaign.
The 2017 UN Report, ‘Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals’, outlines seventeen global issues that still require action until equality, safety and fairness become the everyday. There are several key messages that can be aligned quite clearly with a CSR strategy. On a basic level, their dedication to reducing waste can be realised as a company recycling policy. This is something that we strictly adhere to here at HRC, with separate facilities for each type of waste.
Goal 8 within the report is to provide decent work; reducing the unemployment rate, with particular regard to young people. As a recruitment agency, this is something that is clearly in keeping with our mission to find work for as many of our candidates as we can. In seeking to achieve this goal, we have partnered with The Prince’s Trust (Scotland) and regularly take part in fundraising events and volunteering days.
We have also hosted our own charity quiz night and Hallowe’en themed Bake Off to raise money for the trust. Further to this, we have also taken part in the Mary’s Meals Backpack Campaign, giving children in Africa access to basic school supplies such as pencils and notebooks so that they can remain in education and, hopefully, go on to have a career.
Goal 3 talks about working towards better health and wellbeing. Mental health within the workplace is particularly important, as is getting the work/life balance right. This is something that is reflected in our Employee Value Proposition; offering benefits such as flexible working, free gym memberships or cinema cards and free fruit in the office. We also dedicate our blog to Mental Health Awareness Week related content in May.
Another important objective is found in Goal 5; striving towards gender equality through the empowerment of women and girls and countering deeply rooted gender-based discrimination. Here at HRC Recruitment, we are pleased to be led by both a female CEO and Founder and a female MD. All of our directors are currently female and we offer part-time and flexible working solutions to those who are juggling work and parenthood. We also celebrate International Women’s Day via content and social media takeovers.
In addition to monetary assistance, we have recognised that we can support charities through our core business activity of finding the right candidate for the job. Our mission – to marry up jobs and talent – can support charities by helping them to find appropriately skilled members of staff or trustees. This gives the candidate in question great career opportunities to enhance their CV and experience but, in turn, offers a service to the charity and provides them with a reliable member of staff.
Businesses have to live their values – that way it makes alignment with a CSR strategy so much more achievable and meaningful. Your employees understand exactly why they are fundraising or volunteering for a particular cause and it’s easier for everyone to get passionate about the task at hand. There will be a clear directive from the top as, like anything else involved in running a business, CSR is not something that can be decided at random.