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!
It’s Earth Day week. Many companies are hosting one-time events to support environmental sustainability, a great thing to do. But what can companies do long term to help ensure that our children’s grandchildren have a habitable planet on which to thrive? What works best? Should companies focus on swapping out plastic straws for paper ones, using energy-efficient lightbulbs or encouraging employees to continue working from home, for example?
Thankfully, an esteemed group of experts have combed through the enormity of available data and identified the most effective ways to stem catastrophic climate change. Project Drawdown, as this effort is called, finds that the following business-friendly actions are among the 20 most effective ways to support the environment:
Want other ideas for high-impact environmental sustainability? Project Drawdown has many more, including industry-specific solutions.
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.