Compared to most industrialized nations, the United States has an extraordinarily high rate of gun violence. According to a comprehensive database maintained by the University of Washington, 3.96 per 100,000 U.S. residents die from gun violence per year, nearly 100 times more than in the United Kingdom, for example. Although Colorado’s gun-violence death rate is lower than the country’s (2.27 according to figures that predate the recent Boulder mass shooting), we’re still 50 times more likely to die from a bullet in our beautiful state than in the United Kingdom, South Korea or China. The mounting gun violence crisis means that Colorado corporate social responsibility (CSR) practitioners might want to get involved in this politically charged issue. But how? Each brand needs to determine the approach that works best for its stakeholders and business context, but below are ways some companies have addressed gun violence.
April is Global Volunteer Month per our national partner, Points of Light. Many companies globally further engage and celebrate employee actions that strengthen communities and brighten the world during this month. Ford invites employees around the world to record videos reading a children’s book to share with students being schooled from home, Cambia Health Solutions posts videos of inspiring employee volunteering and many employers recognize outstanding employee volunteers, for example.
Would you like design Global Volunteer Month activities at your company that delights participants and serve societal causes? Below are resources to help you do so.
Have you found other resources helpful in planning your Global Volunteer Month efforts? Let us know! We’ll post them here.
Is it feasible to involve every employee at your company in charitable activities every week?
Bea Boccalandro asked this question at a recent webinar hosted by CSR Solutions of Colorado. At the beginning of the webinar, only 30% of the approximately 100 participants said it was feasible.
Bea is the author of Do Good At Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing, a top-30 new book according to New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant. Do Good At Work claims that anybody in any job can make a meaningful contribution to a societal cause every week. Bea explained in the webinar that routinely doing good at work is a matter of embracing a practice she dubbed “job purposing.” Job purposing involves tilting everyday work toward good. For example, a designer of surfboard fins equips them with sensors that relay location-specific data on water conditions to scientists. His product design helps ocean conservation. Similarly, a manager might rally his team members by donating $10 of the department’s budget to a food pantry every week they meet their objectives.
Apparently, Bea’s explanations and many examples were convincing. At the conclusion of the webinar, 73% of participants considered involving every employee in charitable activities every week feasible, more than double the pre-presentation figure. The best part is that if Colorado companies did job purpose widely, the state’s nonprofits would have substantially more support and we could expect improvement in many societal issues.
To learn more about how every employee can do good every week, watch the recorded webinar.
Has someone ever told you that they chose your business because it hires refugees, sponsors cleanups or is minority owned? According to new Points of Light publication, this customer is using their “purchase power.” Purchase power is “is an individual’s ability and influence when they make decisions around spending or consumption of goods or services.” Increasingly, consumers use purchase power to promote causes aligned with their values. Another Points of Light report on civic engagement found that 41% of adults and 59% of Gen Z in the United States have deliberately used purchase power.
Furthermore, it appears that the pandemic has accelerated the use of purchase power across the globe. An Accenture survey found that consumers "have dramatically evolved": 60% have made more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases since the pandemic started and the vast majority of these conscious consumers plan to make this a permanent change.
The rise of purchase power makes it more urgent that companies establish what values they uphold and what corporate social responsibility (CSR) they pursue. Otherwise, they are forgoing the opportunity to understand, attract and retain customers. Indeed, some companies already work effectively with this force. Target, for example, posts online "gifts that support Black-owned businesses," alongside "gifts for him," "gifts for her," "gifts for your kids."
Another reason to pay attention to purchase power, however, is to minimize the risk of being surprised by the negative side of this force: a boycott. In 2018, for example, a boycott against companies that supported the NRA likely dampened sales and sullied the reputation of Delta Airlines, Enterprise Rent–A–Car, United Airlines, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Best Western, Wyndham Hotels and other brands. It appears that purchase power really does have power. All these brands severed ties with the NRA.
The bottom line is that businesses now have one more trend to follow and manage: consumer purchase power.
We all know that environmental sustainability, COVID-19 and social justice are issues that belong in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) bandwagon. But what about the politically-charged topic of democracy? Some businesses believe it is.
The Business Roundtable, composed of CEOs from close to 200 major U.S. companies, has urged leaders in both houses of Congress to respect two centuries’ worth of tradition and continue with the peaceful transition of power. The powerful National Association of Manufacturers issued a similar statement. And, on Monday, nearly 200 top U.S. business leaders pressed Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Taking a public stand on an issue that, by its very nature, is political is not an easy decision for any business leader. Yet this is increasingly the type of leadership Americans expect from its executives. Furthermore, given the frayed state of confidence in American democracy, it’s a cause where companies might make a significant positive impact.
Corporate leaders wishing to explore how to support democracy, might be interested in the Civic Alliance. This non-partisan group of businesses are dedicated to “working together to build a future where everyone participates in shaping our country,” and include Amazon, Burton Snowboards, LinkedIn, McDonald’s and over 1000 other companies.
The bottom line is that soon business leaders might not have a choice. Whether they want to or not, they will need to decide if and what to do about America’s threatened democracy.
The Civic 50 Colorado, now in its second year, identifies the state’s 50 most community-minded companies via a survey modeled after the national Civic 50 award administered by Points of Light. The survey is independently administered and scored by True Impact across four “I” dimensions: investment in the community, integration of corporate social responsibility into its strategies, institutionalization of practices that contribute to societal causes and impact measurement.
The 2020 Civic 50 Colorado honorees are:
BAKER CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, INC.
BANK OF AMERICA
BROWNSTEIN HYATT FARBER SCHRECK
CHARLES SCHWAB & CO., INC.
CORE CONTRACTORS ROOFING SYSTEMS
DELTA DENTAL OF COLORADO
DENVER COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION
FIRST WESTERN TRUST
GROUNDFLOOR MEDIA | CENTERTABLE
IMA FINANCIAL GROUP
INFO CUBIC LLC
JANUS HENDERSON INVESTORS
MOLSON COORS BEVERAGE COMPANY
MOUNTAIN AVENUE MARKET
OTTEN JOHNSON ROBINSON NEFF + RAGONETTI PC
PEAK RESOURCES, INC.
PREMIER MEMBERS CREDIT UNION
SUZIE’S PET TREATS
WELLS FARGO & COMPANY
The above companies have supported Colorado in countless ways in 2020, including by:
Today is Human Rights Day — the anniversary of the day the global community adopted, in 1948, the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document that proclaims the rights to which every human being is entitled — regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The UDHR has been translated into over 500 languages. One of these tongues, Navajo, is native to our state.
In Colorado, as in the world, much work remains before we can say that we fully recognize the “inherent dignity and… equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” as the UDHR establishes. Why not develop ongoing employee volunteer opportunities to help realize this vision? Click the link below for several nonprofit organizations that might be able to help.
As we reflect on last week's Black Friday, one could say that it’s a day dedicated to the opposite of corporate social responsibility (CSR): excessive consumption and unbridled materialism. Yet, there’s a counter-movement to this version of Black Friday.
Nine Black Fridays ago, Patagonia placed a bold New York Times ad. It had a photo of one of its popular fleeces but said, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The brand was asking consumers to consider the environmental in their purchasing decisions. It was borderline blasphemous for a retailer to suggest not buying its product, especially on the biggest shopping day of the year.
In 2015, REI followed Patagonia’s lead with an equally bold move. It closed shop on Black Friday. REI gave employees paid-time off and encouraged them, and any would-be customers, to spend the day enjoying nature. Since then, other brands have joined the #OptOutside Black Friday movement. For example, Trouts Fly Fishing, which has stores in Denver and Frisco, invited employees and customers to spend Black Friday not just outdoors, but caring for the outdoors. The company hosted a river cleanup (socially distanced this year). Colorado State Parks also did its part to encourage outdoor enjoyment instead of material consumption, making admission free at all 42 parks on Black Friday.
So, can Black Friday be socially responsible? Apparently so. More so every year.
Researchers randomly divided 73 older individuals suffering from high blood pressure into two groups. One group was given $120 and instructed to spend $40 on themselves every week for three weeks. Members of the other group were also given $120 but asked to spend $40 on others every week. At the completion of the experiment, the self-oriented spenders had no change in blood pressure. The group that donated their funds to others or societal causes, or the social-purpose spenders, experienced a blood pressure drop as large as medication or exercise would have generated. In another study, researchers randomly divided a group of adolescents into two groups, one volunteered for charitable causes and the other did not. Four months later, those who volunteered had lower cholesterol than those who hadn't. Social purpose appears to improve other aspects of health as well. There are studies linking acts of social purpose to reductions in inflammation, infectious disease and obesity, for example.
In cases when acts of social purpose don’t spare us from physical ailments, they might still reduce the associated pain. Academics have scanned the brains of individuals whose hands received a mild electric shock. Individuals who had just done an act of social purpose showed a lower pain response in the brain than those who hadn’t. In another study, the same researchers asked cancer patients living with chronic pain to cook and clean for either themselves or for others at their treatment center. When they were helping others, their pain levels were lower than when they were helping themselves.
Cardiologist Alan Rozanski from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City summarizes the evidence on charitable acts and health with, “The need for meaning and purpose is…the deepest driver of wellbeing there is.”
It’s expected that involving employees in charitable activities strengthens societal causes. After all, this is why we organize such activities. Many of us might be surprised, however, to learn that employee social-purpose acts also support the health and wellbeing of the involved employees. In other words, employee volunteering and giving is a true win-win.
This post is an excerpt from “Do Good At Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing” (Morgan James Publishing, November 24, 2020) by Bea Boccalandro, contextualized for this venue.
In early 2017, General Mills tried something new to reduce the deep divide in American society that the 2016 election had exposed. The consumer foods brand started Courageous Conversations, a series of events that consist of a presentation by an external speaker and a small group dialogue facilitated by an employee trained to keep interactions constructive. These conversations dive into the sensitive issues that most organizations encourage workers to tiptoe around: Islamophobia, immigration policy, police brutality, Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ movement, for example. How did this brave experiment go?
Five years of Courageous Conversations, held seemingly everywhere from manufacturing plants to online forums, suggests that it is possible to organize civil and productive workplace dialogue around divisive issues. The first Courageous Conversation attracted a few dozen participants. Now they attract hundreds. Employees report increased levels of understanding and empathy for other groups. They also say that the techniques learned through Courageous Conversations have helped them improve relationships outside of work, including with family.
Following are resources for companies looking to facilitate team-member conversations that reduce divisiveness:
In summary, it appears that corporate leaders don’t have to feel helpless around the blue-red conflict that’s tearing apart workplaces and communities. On the contrary, every company can play a role in healing America's painful and dangerous divide.