Corporate Social Responsibility: Conquering the Generational Divide

For many Millennials ages 18 to 34, a steady paycheck is not reward enough for a job well done. Instead, millennials often want the elusive ‘something more’ from their lives and careers.

More and more companies are realizing this and turning to corporate social responsibility to recruit and retain the younger generation of workers. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate citizenship, business sustainability or stewardship, is a type of self-regulatory business model in which a corporation takes responsibility for its impact on society, namely its key stakeholders (employees, customers, investors, interest groups, etc.). Companies and businesses who engage in CSR try to do good while growing profitably. Examples of CSR include responsible company operations and sustainable production, environmental protection, education programs, employee well-being initiatives, community involvement and volunteerism, advocacy, and corporate governance. 

As one of few Millennials in attendance at the Texas CEO Magazine breakfast Pierpont recently sponsored, I was able to learn what several big Dallas companies are doing in terms of corporate social responsibility. 

The three keynote speakers were Trisha Cunningham, Chief Citizenship Officer for Texas Instruments; Crayton Webb, Director of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Mary Kay, Inc.; and Laura Rojo-Eddy, Director of Corporate Communications for Accor North America. 

All gave great speeches about the dos and don’ts of CSR. Here are some key takeaways.

1. Develop a strategy. CSR isn’t a fly by seat of your pants tactic. Just like creating a communications plan, or implementing a new technology, it requires a well-developed and thought out plan and strategy. You should be able to answer: where/with whom do you want to make a positive impact? What is the best way to invest in key stakeholder groups for the greatest ROI? What are we already doing well? Where do we know we need to improve?

2. Think globally but act locally. Understand the impact of your business decisions on all stakeholder groups, but have a pinpointed, strategic approach to interactions with those groups.

3. Engage stakeholders in decisions that will impact them and in the best way to interact with them (eye-to-eye, traditional vs. social media, etc.). An open, honest relationship builds trust and loyalty, and a better bottom line. Lead by example and they’ll be more likely to stay involved and pay it forward.

4. Recognize the CSR efforts of others. The reward is in the giving, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to say thank you. 

5. Be transparent. Have measurable results and report them to stakeholders who need to see a quantifiable impact.

6. Be sincere. Make sure you’re engaging in CSR for the right reasons not just to increase profits. You may not always be able to track a monetary ROI from your initiatives, but that doesn’t mean it’s not benefitting your business. 

What are your thoughts on CSR? Share them below!