There’s no question that the role of corporate social responsibility has affected investor mindsets. It’s become an important factor in their decision to invest in companies.
But how has corporate social responsibility impacted workplace culture and employee engagement?
According to Angela Kwan, Co-Founder of Catalyser, companies who are connected with corporate social responsibility (CSR) are influencing recruitment decisions of the younger workforce: “We have found that there’s a tremendous sense of pride, inclusiveness, and purpose that leads to a more productive and engaged workforce – which can help with attracting and retaining top talent.”
In the latest episode of the HR Think Tank Podcast, we chatted to the Co-Founders of Catalyser, Angela Kwan and Aivee Robinson on the opportunities and challenges of corporate social responsibility.
Their goal is to increase workplace giving by creating a digital platform for organisations and their staff to engage and impact charitable partners.
The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility
According to Aivee Robinson, some of the biggest CSR moments span back to how employees supported communities after the war.
But, since then, CSR has continued evolving with a significant focus on how companies and brands interplay with the issues that are happening today.
Aivee references climate change, indigenous reconciliation and internal inclusion policies responding to social movements such as Me Too or Black Lives Matter.
Different Types of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives
CSR can include various activities and initiatives, including employee giving activities like volunteering, workplace giving and fundraising. Or initiatives such as disaster relief, corporate matching, pro bono, and in-kind giving.
CSR can also encompass a broader umbrella, such as human rights and sustainability initiatives.
However, Aivee explains that the CSR programs your business should implement is largely dependent on factors such as:
- how long your business has been practising CSR,
- how embedded CSR is in your company’s DNA,
- what your budget restrictions are, and
- what demand you have from customers and employees.
How Corporate Social Responsibility Programs Vary Depending on a Company’s Approach
Khai Ngo, CEO of VerifyNow, identifies a few different approaches to CSR programs, for example, some organisations have partnership approaches with charity partners while others have employee giving programs. Or there are also organisation-driven initiatives and employee-driven initiatives.
So, how do they differ in terms of ultimate success and engagement for employees?
Well, Aivee shares that it’s not necessarily one or the other that renders a more successful CSR program; they’re simply just different approaches.
However, many big national partnerships often fail to engage a key stakeholder group in the business: the employees. So, that’s where employee giving programs come in – to help employees get involved.
In Catalyser’s experience, some of the most impactful programs have a bit from column A and a bit from column B. So, organisations that have successful CSR programs generally have a combination of partnership approaches and employee giving programs.
Aivee further elaborates that, “it’s important that an organisation’s CSR program has top-down, organisation-driven strategic initiatives so that it can align with the business mission. At the same time, the voices and opinions of individual employees also need to be welcomed and heard.”
Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility
Angela Kwan shares that CSR programs are essentially an investment and that “they have to be assessed and implemented strategically to maximise the benefits.”
In other words, for a company to drive tangible business benefits, the CSR program has to be aligned with the company’s commercial strategies. If a company can do that, the benefits are endless:
- Brand building and brand equity: various studies show that consumers would actually pay more to buy from a company with a great reputation.
- Investor persuasion: a lot of investors are actually factoring in whether their investee companies have CSR programs.
- Increasing the employee experience: Catalyser has found that there’s a tremendous sense of pride, inclusiveness, and purpose that leads to a more productive and engaged
Angela Kwan and Aivee Robinson have always built their careers with a social lens – they have always wanted to do things on the understanding that the end goal wasn’t the job itself.
They have always wanted to be part of something that contributed to the change in the world, and that has really come to life through the Catalyser adventure.
Catalyser was started to increase workplace giving by creating a digital platform for organisations and their staff to engage and impact charitable partners.
Crowned by the World Economic Forum in 2018 as the New Global Champion in Innovation, Catalyser stands out because its software has been designed for both employees and program administrators – making it easier to make a difference.
Make sure to tune into HR Think Tank Episode 8 with Angela and Aivee, where they share the variations of success and engagement in CSR programs, the benefits and challenges of implementing them and what’s in store for both CSR and Catalyser moving forward.