From water filters that serve the developing world, to banking products that encourage investments in energy efficiency, to action-focused mobile engagement platforms, companies across all industries are empowering their employees to apply their professional expertise to develop solutions to business and social challenges. Distinguished from employee team and skills-based volunteerism, employee-led product innovation is a powerful engagement tool that drives business, social, and environmental impact.
Helping communities rebound from a traumatic event or natural disaster requires multi-level and cross-sector effort. There are immediate needs to be met—such as trauma support—and in the case of extreme weather events—food, water, and shelter. To make the most of their disaster relief programs, corporate citizenship professionals must partner internally and externally to make the best possible use of all available resources, from community involvement efforts like corporate giving and volunteering to more operational activities like security, logistics, and supply chain management.
Disasters, no matter what their scale, have economic ramifications in addition to the social and environmental consequences. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, wildfires, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters were responsible for more than a trillion dollars in economic damage in 2015 and that number is only expected to increase as climate-related natural disasters become more frequent.
The following is excerpted from Issue 15 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can develop and execute a stakeholder engagement strategy, structure, and process to maximize business and social value, consider joining us in Dallas, TX on December 7-8, 2016 for our Stakeholder Engagement: Identify, Prioritize, and Act course.
The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2015 Community Involvement Study finds that nearly 60 percent of companies engage employees at all levels and one-third of companies engage stakeholders other than employees and customers to help determine which social issues to support (see Figure A). Through its foundation, Northwestern Mutual exhibits the importance of strategic stakeholder engagement through its community involvement efforts, especially its signature Childhood Cancer Program.
The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes an increased focus on corporate giving initiatives. From localized donations such as food and toy drives to broader efforts like the annual #GivingTuesday campaign, companies are ramping up their corporate giving programs. As our calendar year comes to an end and many are moving into new budget cycles this spring, it is a good time to assess your giving strategy and make sure it is designed to maximize both social and business value. All giving is good AND you can increase the effectiveness of your company’s giving program by employing the resources and capabilities unique to you, addressing the causes most relevant to your business operating context, and mobilizing your employees. If you activate your program on all three of these fronts, you will make an impact that continues well beyond the holidays.
Here at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, we’re asked to provide insight and expertise on the complete spectrum of corporate citizenship practices. Our more than 420 member companies are interested in issues ranging from environmental impact reporting to nonprofit board placements—as well as every area in between. One issue that is consistently among the most popular topic of discussion, however, is one of the foundational elements of early CSR—employee volunteer programs. A main focus of corporate citizenship programs year-round, employee volunteer initiatives are especially popular now—during the spring and summer months—when the warmer weather offers a broader array of available activities.
The focus on employee volunteer programs is hardly surprising. Employee volunteer programs offer a myriad of benefits to both businesses and the communities they serve. Research finds that they encourage stronger employee engagement, increase retention, and better job performance. The Center’s own research supports these findings. Our 2015 Community Involvement Study finds that more than 90 percent of companies list improved employee engagement among the top three benefits of an employee volunteer program. Furthermore, companies themselves have found empirical support for the relationship between volunteering and employee engagement. Of the 60 percent of companies that measure the connection between engagement in their employee volunteer program and employee engagement, 89 percent found a positive correlation (see Figure A).
The following is excerpted from the most recent issue of the Corporate Citizen.
Employee engagement is key to company performance, leading to positive effects such as higher productivity, improved work quality, and decreased job turnover. Employees want to be involved in their work, enthusiastic about the organization they work for, and committed to their fellow workers. Yet less than a third of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014, according to Gallup.
With longer work hours and shorter tenures on average, it is more difficult than ever to keep employees engaged with their jobs. The Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace study describes engaged employees as people who are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. In that study, it was found that 87 percent of employees are disengaged from their jobs.[i]
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.
“We make a living by what we get but, we make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill
Giving Tuesday is a national day of online giving which is held at the start of the annual holiday season following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.
The forthcoming 2015 Community Involvement Survey illustrates that many companies are addressing relevant social issues, with a prominent focus on K-12 education. The survey shows that nearly 55 percent of companies include education among their top issues for attention and investment.
With nearly 20 percent of students failing to graduate on time, or at all, corporations are making investments to try and increase student achievement and graduation rates for a more educated workforce.[i]