Employees are looking beyond salary, vacation days and the ability to work from home as a yardstick when sizing up a job offer.
What’s become increasingly more important? The notion of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) or how a business’ practices benefit society. This can mean everything from donating a portion of annual profits to charity to adopting eco-friendly initiatives.
Indeed, 53 percent of workers surveyed by the non-profit Net Impact said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to them, and just under three-quarters of students looking for entry-level roles agreed. Many would take a pay cut to either work for a company with strong CSR initiatives, or one whose values aligned with those of the job seeker.
So it’s no wonder that CSR is becoming more and more common practice.
“When a company invests in strategic giving and volunteer programs, and its leadership team buys in and actively participates, it is more likely to enjoy a positive boost to its image, which in turn the employee is sure to notice, appreciate, and feel positive about,” says Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, . “When employees witness such a thing, they are far more likely to be loyal and productive, which translates to more experience on the job, less churn, better advancement opportunities and a greater sense of fulfillment and pride. For the employer, this leads to better workforce engagement and retention, and a stronger bottom line.”
JPMorgan Chase one of our partner companies has a great reputation in the CSR world, and for good reason. From urban development to supporting military families to closing the skills gap, JPMorgan makes bold commitments that deliver shared value, and regularly measures and reports on progress. One of the bank’s most impressive initiatives is its $100 million investment to revitalize Detroit communities, which is designed to deliver both social and capital returns. It’s a robust effort that involves cross-sector collaboration and an inspiring example of the role that corporations can play in driving national progress.
We also spoke with McPherson about the CSR landscape, how a job seeker can evaluate a company’s CSR practices, and which firms are excelling in this area.
Q. With so many companies jumping on the CSR bandwagon, how can a job searcher tell if a firm’s CSR initiative is genuine?
A. Great question. Given the transparent world that we now live in, a job searcher can easily go online and find out. If a company is investing money and resources toward one-off projects or initiatives that aren’t aligned with its core competency, those are immediate red flags.
Review a company’s annual and CSR reports to determine whether it’s focused on long-term strategy versus short-term returns. Companies that are looking at the long game will be far more likely to have a comprehensive CSR strategy in place and be genuinely committed to see it through.
Also, review social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to gauge if companies are actively engaging with their customers, partners and the general public.
Q. Do you have a couple of examples of CSR programs that are especially noteworthy?
Intel and Girl Rising. Intel partnered with the unique documentary film and social movement, Girl Rising, because the tech company was committed to educating and empowering girls around the world and wanted to truly increase its recruitment of female employees. It was a brilliant partnership because it gave Intel a built-in story that they could use to communicate their commitment and engage employees and customers. Funds raised from the film and movement were donated to major global NGOs focusing on girls’ education.
Most recently, Intel took gender equality one step further this year and stood out among its tech peers by celebrating 100% gender pay parity across its U.S. workforce.
Coca Cola: Coca-Cola’s Journey page is an excellent example of a company that created an engaging, proprietary media site to tell its brand story. The content on Coca Cola Journey ranges from Slow Cooking Using Coca-Cola to Holiday Gifts that Give Back created by the women the soda company has helped through its 5×20 women’s empowerment program. It’s a totally integrated picture of what Coca Cola is all about.
I recently traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, and met several women who were beneficiaries of the 5×20 program and each were clearly seeing their businesses grow thanks to training and business acumen provided by Coca-Cola.
For more insight into CSR, listen to our podcast in which Apres co-founder Jennifer Gefsky interviews McPherson on her experience in the CSR world.