Eighty percent of the Colorado companies recognized for being exceptional corporate citizens, The Civic 50 Colorado, offer their employees volunteer time off (VTO). VTO allows workers to support charitable causes while on company time.
VTO communicates to employees their employer’s commitment to supporting service to societal causes, which employees increasingly value. It also makes it easier for fulltime employees with scarce free time to find the time to volunteer.
VTO functions similarly to other paid time off (PTO) policies. It typically includes a requirement to obtain approval from a manager or supervisor, a definition of eligible volunteer activities and a maximum number of hours per year. According to CECP, the median number of hours offered by U.S. companies is 16 and it’s rarely less than 8 or more than 40, although a few companies offer over 80 or have no limit. Some companies limit VTO to signature causes, skills-based volunteering, board service or other types of volunteering that align with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. Most, however, make all volunteering eligible.
If you’re looking to institute VTO at your company, Harvard Business Review has a superb article with guidance and our partner organization, Points of Light, has a fill-in-the-blanks template.
In 2018, we launched the Civic 50 Colorado in partnership with Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. The Civic 50 Colorado recognizes the 50 most community-minded companies in Colorado. Companies with 15 or more employees in state are eligible to apply. The application is free and closes on August 15th. Winners will be announced in the fall.
The Civic 50 Colorado is a unique opportunity to gain recognition for your community engagement program, take a leadership position in corporate community involvement and to share their best practices with the broader business community. Many companies have also said that the process of taking the survey and receiving their complimentary individual scorecards with information on their rankings helped them understand how they could improve their processes and strategies in the future.
To learn more, access support resources and apply, go to our website.
If corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of your responsibilities, you might pine for guidance in this rapidly evolving business function. You might have questions like, “What foundational principles do I use to make decisions?” or “What policies or programs should I consider?” or “What’s a reasonable target for employee participation in volunteer activities?”
Good news! Our partner organization, Points of Light, asked an esteemed group of CSR experts these questions. Their responses led to The Civic 50 framework, which is reviewed annually and updated as needed. Both The Civic 50 Colorado award program and its national counterpart, The Civic 50 US, are based on the framework. Therefore, in addition to having access to conceptual guidance through the framework, you also have access to performance metrics of US and Colorado award-winning CSR programs on the framework.
So, what does the Civic 50 framework suggest? At a high level, it specifies that strong CSR program have four dimensions:
When companies donate to nonprofits, it’s usually one of three thing: the products/services they sell, volunteer hours or cash. Pharmaceutical companies donate medicine and law firms donate pro bono legal services – and almost all donate volunteering and money. Businesses, however, are also trove of other assets that can also be repurposed for good. Below are 20 examples.
Donating Items (beyond the company’s commercial products/services)
Offering Space as a Communications Tool (used for marketing, education, etc.)
Sharing Internal Programs and Processes
You get the idea. There are an infinite number of novel contributions companies can make to charitable causes! What might your business contribute?
If you’re interested in deepening your corporate social responsibility (CSR) expertise, here are three recommended reads.
Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston
Net Positive is a deeply helpful and easy-to-read blueprint on what business leaders should consider including in their CSR. Every business leader will benefit from the ideas within it, even if they are not yet ready to institute them fully.
Purpose Work Nation: Leading Organizations in Service of Our Nation's Powerful Purpose by Brandon Peele
Purpose Work Nation offers leaders a novel pathway to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at their organizations based on the nation’s powerful purpose of “E Pluribus Unum.” It helps companies free their work cultures from mistrust and divisiveness. Purpose Work Nation is research-backed, elegant and as American as apple pie. Read it to bring out the most productive and inspired work across the full diversity of your workforce.
Do Good at Work: How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing by Bea Boccalandro
What type of CSR works best for employees? Do Good at Work answers this question. It weaves rigorous evidence, captivating stories, pen and ink illustrations and more than
100 real-world examples into concrete ways CSR practitioners and managers can help team members ignite a sense of purpose.
All three books are critically acclaimed and have Amazon ratings of close to a perfect five out of five stars. So why not curl up with a good book that will deepen your CSR knowledge?
Photo by Hoan Ngọc
Carbon credits were first introduced at the 1997 United Nations Kyoto Protocol, the first global agreement to cut carbon emissions. A carbon credit is a permit that allows the owner, a company, to emit a certain amount of CO2 or other greenhouse gas. This might sound like an undesirable transaction but it actually helps limit net carbon emissions. Imagine a company emits 100 metric tons of carbon in a year and would like to offset those emissions. It can purchase a carbon credit that uses some method of carbon capture to offset 100 tons of emissions. Companies can buy or sell carbon credits – or even create more by funding new carbon offset projects. Carbon offsetting was found to be an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reputable studies. The four main types of carbon offset methods are:
Each of these methods offsets carbon damage by creating carbon repair that otherwise may not have happened. When companies or organizations buy carbon credits, they are helping to fund these projects that cannot be funded on their own. Carbon credits can be used for businesses that are required to lower their carbon emissions by legal regulations or for companies looking to improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Carbon credits are a way for companies to maintain operations while managing greenhouse gas emissions. Participating in carbon credits can help your company in many ways:
Despite these pros, there are also criticisms of carbon credits. For example, what if the development of wind power in that small village would have happened without the trading of carbon credits? Also, are the carbon measurements accurate? And are we truly offsetting as much as we're emitting? All of the concerns are valid and should be addressed when trading or creating carbon credits. Nevertheless, for small companies starting their sustainable strategies, carbon offsets can be a good option. There are even companies, like Radicle, that help track your emissions, lower your emissions, create carbon credits and trade carbon credits – all in compliance with regulatory and environmental standards. Bottom line? If you want to reduce your carbon emissions, consider carbon credits.
We are thrilled to announce the publication of a research report detailing the practices of the Colorado companies that earned 2021 state-level recognition for their corporate social responsibility (CSR): the 2021 Colorado Civic 50.
What can we learn from Colorado’s best CSR exemplars? The report has dozens of data points, but some of its most applicable lessons for organizations looking to improve their CSR include:
On February 24, the world watched Russia invade Ukraine. While there are many factors at play, we can all agree that this is a horrifying experience for those living in Ukraine. Many business owners and managers are watching the events unfold via the news and other media channels feeling powerless. How can we do our work while so many are suffering across the globe? Fortunately, there are some steps companies can take to help those affected:
1. Reach out to your stakeholders. If your company has employees, contracted workers, suppliers or partners in Ukraine or affected neighboring countries, reach out and extend help in any way possible.
2. Encourage your employees to donate. Provide legitimate organizations for your employees to donate to, such as Ukrainians of Colorado, GlobalGiving or Save The Children. If possible, show your support – and do more good – by matching employee donations.
3. Give your employees a day off to attend a protest. Allowing employees to take time off to go to a local protest could assuage their feelings of helplessness, facilitate stronger inter-employee connections and boost company moral. To find protests near you, search Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using relevant hashtags (#Ukraine, #nowar, #StandWithUkraine) and Google.
4. Leverage any capacity to help your company has: Your company may have the ability to support Ukraine in its own way. For example, Airbnb is providing free temporary housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. However, you do not need to be a large company to help. Your company may have a niche authority they can leverage. King Soopers’ liquor store in Glendale, for example, pulled Russian vodka from its shelves and a bakery in Canada baked cookies featuring the colors of the Ukrainian flag and is donating all proceeds to the Ukrainian cause.
5. Allow affected employees to take time off. Allow employees with family in the Ukraine or otherwise directly affected by the crisis to take time off to grieve, process or sort out their situation. Your employees are one of your most important stakeholders. Supporting them is an integral part of any strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.
6. Get creative! If none of the above options are a good fit for your company, find one that is. Might you purchase art from Ukrainian artists to refresh your office for the upcoming return to in-person work? Or take your team to this Denver immersive experience that raises funds for Ukraine? At the very least, your company can make a statement of solidarity.
In summary, your company can help tilt the fate of Ukraine toward peace. In fact, leveraging our business resources to support Ukraine (and others in similar situations) is considered by some experts a requirement for best-in-class CSR. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy may have said it best: “We are all people of this world. We should be together, we should be strong and show solidarity.”
April is Global Volunteer Month. It celebrates the power of people who tackle society’s greatest challenges, including employee volunteers. Following are a few ideas to help your company make it a great month.
1. Encourage participation
Global Volunteer Month is a great time to highlight your year-round volunteer service opportunities. Consider ramping up communications or enrolling middle managers as advocates, for example.
2. Give credit where credit is due
Shouting people out for their volunteer contributions is a great way to celebrate Global Volunteer Month. Consider hand-written notes or emails from senior leaders to volunteers. Additionally, sharing stories and photos of volunteers internally will brighten the workplace culture and inspire others to start volunteering.
3. Spread the word
Don't have the time or resources to plan anything new right now? Don’t worry, a simple social-media campaign is low-burden way to celebrate Global Volunteer Month. Points of Light has a great marketing kit to get you started. Your campaign could, for example, share stories and accomplishments of your employees or build awareness for a cause that your company values.
4. Become an Activation Partner
If you already have a plan for this April’s Global Volunteer Month, share it with Points of Light. It will promote it through their social networks!
For more Global Volunteer Month ideas, explore the Points of Light’s Global Volunteer Month toolkit.
In 2021 we saw a 5% increase in resignations over 2019. This phenomenon is referred to as the Great Resignation, a term coined by Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz. Klotz believes it’s a consequence of pandemic disruptions releasing pent up employee dissatisfaction. As we’re all painfully aware, the pandemic postponed weddings, canceled sporting events, wiped holiday celebrations off the calendar, normalized work at home, made grieving an everyday emotion, frayed mental health and generally upended our lives. Has all this jarring resulted in more of us quitting our jobs? If so, what are the criteria that we now use to determine if we will quit? A 2021 Edelman study identified the three drivers of the Great Resignation. For some, it’s compensation. These individuals left their jobs because they were not satisfied with their pay and perks. Others have left their jobs because they wanted to continue working from home, live in a rural area, parent full time or otherwise change their lifestyle. The number one reason people have left their jobs, however, is lack of purpose (learn more). The relationship between purpose and retention has long existed. For example, pre-pandemic research uncovered that workers with a sense of purpose had 40% higher retention. Klotz’s analysis, however, seems to apply here. The pandemic unleashed record amounts of purpose-oriented action.
Given that purpose is so central for employees, how can employers provide it? Good news! CSR (corporate social responsibility) is one solution. There’s evidence that simply participating in employee volunteering, for example, boosts sense of purpose at work by 33%. What’s more, CSR benefits the company in ways other than retention as detailed in a prior post.
In these trying times, CSR might just save your business from being a victim of the Great Resignation.
Spark the Change Colorado, Community Shares of Colorado, B:CIVIC