Corporate citizenship is no longer a “nice-to-have” for employers. It’s a crucial element of a company’s overall strategy, impacting employer brand, the satisfaction of current staff and even customers’ purchasing decisions. Today’s organizations are expected to not only strategize how to be most profitable, but also how to give back and positively affect society.
According to the Governance and Accountability Institute, 86% of S&P 500 companies published sustainability reports in 2018, compared to just 20 percent in 2011. The push toward corporate citizenship has gained momentum and many insurance organizations publicly and proudly share their programs and reports with customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. These efforts are vital in attracting and engaging top insurance talent, especially when it comes to members of younger generations. A recent survey found 90% of Generation Z believes companies must take action on social and environmental issues and 75% research companies’ stances on these issues.
In addition to being an important factor as candidates review and evaluate potential employers, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs have a true impact on company culture. By prioritizing these programs, insurance organizations can boost employee morale and create a spirit of giving and charity within their organizations. If you’re ready to build or enhance your CSR program, there are a few key ways to ensure it’s successful, while improving your employer brand and attracting high-performing professionals.
Develop a Plan
It’s one thing to decide you need a CSR program. It’s another to bring to life a program that strategically aligns with your overall business goals and values. Determine how your CSR program will support your business objectives and how it will enhance your company from a culture, recruiting and business perspective. Enlist individuals from across the organization to sit on your CSR committee and drive its efforts. If you’re just launching your program, you may want to start small with pilot events to gauge interest and build momentum. This enables you to share a few opportunities that require monetary investment (such as sponsoring a charity event or implementing environmentally responsible programs) along with others that don’t (for instance, a company-wide food or toy drive.) Use these as stepping stones and start to formulate expected ROI to share with senior leadership, while beginning to garner employee participation.
Gain Buy-In from Leadership
For a CSR program to be adopted throughout the company, support needs to come from the top. Although your executive team may be on board with the general idea of a CSR program, it’s important to ensure time and budget are dedicated to getting it off the ground. Additionally, by proactively championing chosen causes, participating in events and encouraging staff to spend time volunteering, leaders are demonstrating their commitment to the program. This enables employees to openly rally around causes, feel confident in taking time out of their days to contribute, and gain a sense of shared excitement and purpose.
Choose Your Causes
There are many worthy causes to support, and narrowing down where to invest your time and budget may be a difficult decision. By developing criteria for evaluating each opportunity, you can leverage an objective framework to guide your decisions. Use your company’s core values and mission to develop these standards. You may want to support organizations that relate to your industry and are non-divisive, for instance, those that serve underprivileged populations and children. They could be local causes, where you can see a direct impact on your community. Or, if you’re a larger organization with multiple offices, you may want to support organizations that have a similar presence. Time and budget commitments also play a role in selecting the opportunities that are right for your company. Leverage your CSR committee to identify and build partnerships with programs that align with your business goals.
Encourage Employee Participation
While executives should fully support your efforts, successful CSR programs are often employee run and driven. Many professionals have a passion for service and making a societal impact. Encourage their participation and create a sense of friendly competition to build buzz and make things fun. For instance, whether you’re donating backpacks and school supplies, sponsoring underserved children during the holidays or collecting canned goods, pitting internal teams against each other can increase donations and build camaraderie. Encourage managers to support employees who want to participate and champion volunteer opportunities. Seek feedback at the end of each year to better understand what employees found valuable, reevaluate what other organizations are doing and make any tweaks.
Share Your Impact
Your CSR program is a valuable recruiting and retention tool. Make sure to promote your efforts, both internally and externally. Share photos from volunteer events on your social media platforms to illustrate how employees are actively giving back. Encourage employees to join the conversation by engaging with your company posts and using hashtags. Include the causes your company supports on your website and within your recruiting materials. At the same time, arm recruiters with talking points on your CSR program and provide concrete examples to discuss with candidates in interviews.
Corporate citizenship is an important part of your organization’s overall vitality, corporate culture and employer brand. Individuals are looking to join organizations that share their own values and enable them to make a difference in their communities and society as a whole. Prioritize a CSR program, gain buy-in throughout your company and share your impact to help solidify your position as an employer of choice.
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