How do we ensure our social purpose focuses on causes employees care about most? My answer is, "Don't go there."
After another year of uncertainty, we are now at the beginning of 2022. While many embark on new resolutions to be outside more, exercise more, or make more time for family, businesses also have the opportunity to start new ventures. Here are three reasons why corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be a new year’s resolution for your company:
1. Employee attraction and retention: Amidst a wave of resignations, employee retention is increasingly important. As Millennials and Gen Z’s take over the workforce, employee expectations shift from monetary criteria to purpose. Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, have been found to be more loyal to their company if it helps them give back to societal and environmental issues. Gen Z, who will make up 30% of the workforce in four years, put even more importance on the incorporation of CSR at their workplace. Overall, companies with a drive for purpose have 40% higher employee retention than those who don’t. This year, choose to adapt your company values to the new working class.
2. CSR and financial returns are not mutually exclusive: Once you start offering your employees more meaningful work, the financial returns will follow. Gallup finds that the vast majority of workers are not engaged at work, meaning they are not willing to work more than the job minimally requires, and that the costs of such disengagement are substantial. One study found that CSR increases employee engagement by 20%. How does this produce financial return? Externally, effective CSR initiatives can increase customer satisfaction which in turn increases sales, leading to higher financial returns. Leave the myth that CSR sacrifices financial return back in 2021.
3. Be more attractive to investors: Creating genuine CSR initiatives can build trust with existing investors, attract new ones and improve stock performance. According to a 2016 Alflac report, CSR initiatives are correlated with a corporate culture “less likely to produce expensive missteps like financial fraud.” Investors are looking for sustainable financial returns with minimal risk. Purpose-driven companies are less risky in the eyes of investors. This year, take the step to become more trustworthy in a way that benefits the world, you and your investors.
In short, there’s not much we can be certain about in the new year but we can feel confident that CSR will help future-proof our business.
In the last few years, thousands of Amazon workers signed an open letter making demands of their employer, hundreds of Walmart employees staged a walkout and 5% of Coinbase employees quit because of a new company policy.
There’s nothing new about groups of employees pressuring their employers into certain actions, or at least trying to. Workers protests have been around for millennia. What’s surprising about the three examples above is that the demands were largely unrelated to worker wellbeing. Amazon, Walmart and Coinbase employees were asking for improved environmental sustainability, discontinuation of firearm sales and support for Black Lives Matter respectively. These workers were urging their employers, not to boost pay or improve work conditions, but to be more socially responsible.
It’s not just these three workplaces that are experiencing a rise in employee insistence for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Research by Marketing Scenario Analytica finds that CSR employee activism almost tripled from 2019 to 2020 (there’s no data on 2021 yet) and a survey by Edelman finds that employees care more than ever about their employers CSR.
Bottom line? CSR is becoming a serious HR concern and an important employee benefit.
The Civic 50 Colorado award, modeled after the national Civic 50 administered by Points of Light, has been offered since 2019 by CSR Solutions of Colorado in partnership with B:CIVIC. Honorees are selected using a quantitative assessment of their survey responses developed by True Impact, a third party with world-class expertise in corporate social responsibility (CSR) measurement.
Congratulations to this year’s honorees!
The Civic 50 Colorado 2021
Bank of America
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP
Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
Core Contractors, Roofing Systems
Delta Dental of Colorado
Denver Community Credit Union
GroundFloor Media I CenterTable
Husch Blackwell, LLP
IMA Financial Group, Inc.
Info Cubic Employment Screening
Janus Henderson Investors
Mortenson Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti PC
PEAK Resources, Inc.
Premier Members Credit Union
Vectra Bank Colorado
Learn more about the 2021 Civic 50 Colorado by watching the recording of the virtual announcement event. The Civic 50 Colorado is made possible by the support of its host committee: AAA Colorado, Charles Schwab, Colorado Institute for Social Impact, Comcast NBCUniversal, COPIC, Delta Dental of Colorado, Denver Community Credit Union, Lauren Carpenter, Prosono and S&P Global.
Interested in applying to the Civic 50 Colorado 2022? Subscribe to our mailing list. We’ll notify you when the application period opens.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can focus on many different issues. How might CSR practitioners choose whether to address hunger, environmental degradation or disaster response, for example? To maximize the impact of its CSR on both society and the business, companies should pursue causes that are close to the business. CSR practitioners can identify these causes through what is called a “materiality assessment.” A materiality assessment identifies issues that meet all three of the following criteria (ideally via conversations, surveys and other data collection efforts):
Interested in conducting your own materiality assessment? The Quick Materiality Assessment tool offered by our national partner, Points of Light, will help.
The unfolding situation in Afghanistan has made the global refugee issue front of mind. The United Nations reports that over 30 million of the world’s inhabitants have been forced to flee their home countries because of persecution, war or violence. At first blush, people leaving Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela might appear a distant concern to us in Colorado. The plight of refugees, however, is our concern.
For starters, our state has welcomed approximately 60 Afghan refugees this summer and we expect this is just the start. More broadly, though, many of our businesses source products from faraway lands, sell abroad and do business with people directly affected by the refugee crisis. In today’s tightly knit world markets, a crisis that affects other continents affects us. Not surprisingly, many business managers have a global mindset and would like to aid refugees. But what, exactly, can businesses do?
It turns out that companies can do a lot for displaced individuals across the globe. Over 170 companies–including Airbnb, Chobani, Hilton, Warby Parker and Western Union–are part of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a collaboration dedicated to integrating refugees in their host communities, including in Colorado. Companies can also join UNSTUCK, which helps businesses populate supply chains with providers that hire refugees. Of course, donating money, goods, services or time in the form of employee volunteering is also hugely helpful. In Colorado, companies might want to support the Lutheran Family Services, the African Community Center and the International Rescue Committee, for example.
In short, business leaders don’t need to feel helpless in the face of the news from Afghanistan and elsewhere. They can expand their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) initiatives to alleviate the hardship endured by millions of displaced people around the globe.
Have you completed The Civic 50 Colorado application? It’s not too late! It’s a great way to get your company recognized for its community engagement. Learn more.
Let’s face it. Most of you managing employee volunteer programs also perform HR, public relations, marketing or other important roles. Involving employees in societal causes is likely an “additional” responsibility for which you have no formal training. Wouldn’t a depository of helpful articles, tools and guidance be great?
Good news! Our national partner, Points of Light, has created a free online community to provide employee volunteer program practitioners the support and answers you need to succeed. The Community for Employee Civic Engagement (CECE), as this platform is called, offers you a place to find answers and connect with peers. Points of Light’s hand-selected experts post content and respond to your questions. Their research and resources represent the proven solutions developed through hands-on experience as well as the best innovative thinking for the sector. CECE’s resources include, for example, an article on the role workplace purpose plays in the post-COVID return to office space, a webinar on measuring the impact of employee volunteering and a video on the innovative concept of job purposing, Go to CECE.
Have you completed The Civic 50 Colorado application? It’s not too late! The Civic 50 Colorado recognition, administered by CSR Solutions of Colorado, is a great way to get your company recognized for its community engagement. Learn more.
What does it take to be a Civic 50 Colorado honoree?
Every year (since 2019), CSR Solutions of Colorado and Points of Light recognize the 50 most civic minded companies operating in Colorado and bestows on them Civic 50 Colorado honors. Who are these companies and what did they do to earn this honor? See answers below.
Who are the Civic 50 Colorado?
The 2020 Civic 50 Colorado honorees are:
Baker Concrete Construction, Inc.
Bank of America
Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
Delta Dental Of Colorado
First Western Trust
GroundFloor Media | CenterTable
IMA Financial Group
Info Cubic LLC.
Janus Henderson Investors
Mountain Avenue Market
Otten Johnson Robinson
Neff + Ragonetti PC
PEAK Resources, Inc.
PNC Financial Services
QEP Resources, Inc.
Suzie’s Pet Treats
Wells Fargo & Company
What have these companies done to deserve Civic 50 Colorado honors?
Civic 50 Colorado honorees are selected according to their performance on four dimensions developed by a team of national experts. Based entirely on responses to numerical and categorical questions, normalized by company revenue or number of employees when relevant (to ensure size does not provide an advantage), each applicant receives up to a possible 1,000 points in each dimension. The 50 applicants with the highest total score are awarded Civic 50 honors. Scoring is automated according to responses to quantitative and categorical questions. Human judging is not part of the determination. The four equally weighted Civic 50 Colorado dimensions are:
To learn more about what it takes to be an honoree, read the 2020 Civic 50 Colorado report.
Is your company worthy of the 2021 Civic 50 award?
The above information and the 2020 Civic 50 Colorado report provide a rough idea of how competitive your company is for the 2021 Civic 50 Colorado. But the only way to find out if your organization is Civic 50 material is to apply! Even if your company doesn’t win, the experience is likely a win. You will receive a free assessment report that can help you strengthen your community engagement program – and win in a future year. Plus, aside from an investment of several hours of time to complete the submission, there is no downside to participating. There’s no application fee and no risk of looking bad since non-winners are not announced. In other words, there’s no good reason to not participate in the Civic 50 Colorado!
Learn more or apply to the Civic 50 Colorado.
We tend to think corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a specialized function conducted by certain team members on behalf of the entire enterprise, similar to legal or R&D. It’s true that, typically, some team members have job descriptions that include supporting nonprofits, organizing volunteer events, developing environmentally sustainable policies, improving employee inclusivity and other CSR actions. Nevertheless, doing CSR is more like being a good team player – it’s a positive workplace action available to anybody. In fact, this last year could be considered a showcase of such grassroots CSR:
Regardless of your job, you also can similarly use whatever level of autonomy you have to do good at work – at any time, not just during global crises. Fortunately, there’s a new resource to inspire and equip you to develop your CSR. Our partner, Points of Light, published the “Work” issue of its beautiful Civic Life Today magazine. Whether you are a sales representative at a shoe manufacturer, script supervisor at a Hollywood studio or CEO at a tech firm, this resource will help you make your own work week more meaningful and the world a little brighter. Ready to start? Read the “Work” issue of Civic Life Today.
The Civic 50 Colorado, by CSR Solutions of Colorado and Points of Light, recognizes the top 50 companies committed to creating a culture of service and using their time, talents and resources to support our local community. Does YOUR company have what it takes to make the top 50 in Colorado? Learn more or take the survey, launching June 15th!
In the business world, something novel has happened in the last couple of decades. Many organizations have deliberately chosen an identity that lies between for-profit and non-profit. Take the popular brand TOMS Shoes, for example. It has donated as many shoes to impoverished individuals as it is has sold to customers. Is, then, TOMS a for-profit or nonprofit business? The best answer might be that it’s neither and it’s both. TOMS is what’s called a social enterprise, meaning that it seeks to both profits and societal benefits.
The proliferation of social enterprises has led to a new third-party certification called B Corps, administered by B Lab. Certified B Corps go through a rigorous process establishing that they serve not just shareholders but also society. The first B Corps were certified in 2007. Today, there are more than 3,400 B Corps in over 70 countries, including TOMS and over 120 businesses operating in Colorado.
Certification isn’t the full story of formalized corporate social responsibility. There is now also the option of legally incorporating as a do-good business. To date, 38 states and the District of Colombia have passed legislation allowing businesses to incorporate as benefit corporations. Colorado is one of them. Here we can not only incorporate a business as C, S or LLC corporation, but also as a “Public Benefit Corporation” (PBC). According to the Colorado Department of State, PBC’s are for-profit businesses that “intend to produce one or more public benefits and operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.”
In summary, today’s businesses are not our parent’s businesses. Increasingly, brands in Colorado and across the world appear to be taking on a role that was formerly reserved for nonprofits and government: helping with societal issues. Socially responsible certification or incorporation is a great option, but it might be too big a first step for many companies. If this is true for you, consider participating in the 2021 The Colorado Civic 50 Colorado recognition program. It’s free and serves as a great road map in the journey toward best-in-class corporate social responsibility, including toward becoming a B Corps or PBC. Plus, your company might end up being officially recognized!
Spark the Change Colorado, Community Shares of Colorado, B:CIVIC