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Note from the top - It’s a CSR jungle out there

Business leaders know just how hard it is not only to compete for business and deliver profits but now they also have to match expectations on delivering significant social value.

At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that success or failure in CSR today has a lot to do with how well companies engage and enable their people.

Strong clear leadership is essential but without broad commitment by employees and widespread embrace of CSR a company’s aspirations to become a responsible citizen will remain just that – an aspiration.

We have to move beyond compliance-driven CSR structures that track participation in giving campaigns, tally employee volunteer hours, engineer forced-fun participation at company-wide events, and drive non-disruptive, cost-savings focused sustainability efforts.

To unlock real change, companies must seek more effective ways to tap into their employees’ unique knowledge and passion. This means moving beyond uninspired, go-through-the-motions strategies and programs.

In my experience people in main, no matter what generation ‘get’ CSR. I am privileged to be able to interview candidates from graduates to executives, and one thing is striking, about three quarters of them cite a strong attraction to my Company’s values. They want to be part a of team that genuinely cares about society and accepts its responsibility in finding ways to add value.  What an overwhelming majority of employees need to believe is that the company they work for also ‘gets’ CSR and that it’s not a packaged lip-service agenda. I know I do.

Social media commands our attention on values-driven products like Marks & Spencer’s Plan A and Sky's ‘Save the Rainforest’. People now demand good behaviour from corporates, just look at the reaction to the one’s that don’t behave well, there are many well reported examples out there. It’s becoming the norm.

It’s critical for business leaders to understand that these people are inside the building, employees, customers and suppliers. And thank goodness they are, they’re bringing with them not only a whole new set of beliefs about the role of business in society, but also an expectation they will personally play a part in making change happen.

As CSR mainstreams as a core business strategy and your competitors get on board, one thing is clear: If you’re not aggressively reducing your negative impacts on the environment and charging forward to grow your social value you’re going to be left behind in the CSR innovation race.

The good news: Even if you don’t have all this figured out, you’ve probably got some really smart people ‘in the building’ who can.

My tip: Reach out to your colleagues. Tap into their passions.  Enable them. Then step back and watch them transform your company into one that does ‘more good’ everyday.

Gavin Bounds
About the Author

Gavin Bounds

Chief Operating Officer at Fujitsu UK & Ireland

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