Sustainability reporting—also known as corporate citizenship, CSR, ESG, or non-financial reporting—is widely considered a best practice of companies worldwide. The reporting process—and the resulting report—has become essential for strategic decision-making, enabling stronger long-term planning, stakeholder relations, and data-driven insights. With the growing popularity of disclosure, reports are becoming more sophisticated and useful for decision makers and leaders in the company, as well as for external audiences such as investors—who are using the information to make more accurate market evaluations.
Corporate citizenship professionals from across the United States and Canada will be traveling to the Boston College campus to attend our Management Intensive and Leadership Academy courses. These groups explore business and management approaches and tools that can be applied to their corporate citizenship, CSR, employee engagement, and sustainability jobs. Each year, one of the most popular questions we field is: "How do you create a corporate citizenship strategy?"
“I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition.”—Bill Gates
When done right, corporate citizenship is a serious investment of money, resources, and time. To ensure that your CSR programs continue to receive the funding and attention they deserve, you must be able to demonstrate—to your leaders, your partners, and broader stakeholders—the return on that investment, or the ROI. What do your efforts offer the business? How do they advance the missions of your nonprofit partners? How are they benefiting your employees, customers, and shareholders?
The following is excerpted from Issue 15 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can engage your employees and contribute to your communities through employee volunteering programs, consider joining us for our Employee Volunteer Programs with Purpose course.
Community involvement efforts—once a way for well-intentioned companies to connect with people in their area—are now an essential part of corporate citizenship programs and have evolved to become a strategic component of business.
The following is excerpted from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s research report, the Community Involvement Study 2015.
The 2015 Community Involvement Study finds that nearly all companies have a community involvement strategy or are in the process of setting one up. The most effective are those that align their programs with overall business objectives—bringing the unique skills and expertise of employees to bear on some of society’s toughest challenges.
As a property and casualty insurance company, Farmers Insurance knows well what challenges people face when they encounter natural disasters. Building from their core competency, Farmers has a dedicated team of staff members who handle only disaster response and are prepared to react in a moment’s notice.
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs are only as strong as the data they are built on. That’s why the most effective corporate citizenship professionals consistently gather, evaluate, and measure all available data to create initiatives that are tied to business strategy and leverage the skills and expertise of their colleagues. They set daring goals complete with milestones and targets. They are aware of all affected stakeholders and know how to reach them. They know what resources are available and which are needed for success. They continually assess, modify, and improve their efforts based on the most recent data to achieve the most business and social value possible.
Creating public-private partnerships in corporate citizenship is rarely easy. Scorecards, conference calls, memoranda of understanding, and that’s before you’ve even begun the actual project. So why are CSR professionals seeking more partners, further collaboration, and more strategic alignment?
One of the biggest reasons is because stakeholders, especially consumers, are noticing who your partners are and examining the details of your work together. A 2010 Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker survey found that 60 percent of respondents indicated that they actively seek partnership details before supporting a cause and 75 percent of American consumers reported that they wanted to hear about the results of a corporate citizenship partnership, including the effect on the social issue or money raised for the cause.
A crucial aspect of corporate citizenship is the ability and desire to engage your company’s employees. Implementing volunteer, giving, and other “responsible” programs help to not only enhance your company’s reputation image, but more importantly, the loyalty of your employees. In our September webinar, we will explore the ways in which companies can most effectively execute these efforts: by aligning them with their overall corporate strategy.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report, 70% of the American workforce is “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work. These employees are more likely to be emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less likely to be productive as a whole. Additionally, many American workers do not feel that they understand their company’s brand promise and brand differentiation, meaning they are unable to effectively communicate this to customers, or become more connected to the company themselves. This inability to articulate the goals and vision of one’s company can only add to the likelihood of disengagement by employees in their daily work.