How to choose the best CSR initiatives for your company
Q. Hi! For 2013, we are thinking of several options for our CSR initiatives. What factors should we consider as we look at investing our resources for a cause? – Hiba R.
A. Excellent question, Hiba. In recent years CSR or corporate social responsibility has fast gained prominence and support among management. Organizations no longer see themselves solely as profit-making machines but as contributing and conscientious members of the community as a whole.
For current Gen X’s in the workforce, salary is not the only deciding factor for that job satisfaction. Consider these statistics from Bayt.com’s Employee Motivation in the MENA survey (2013): a majority (59%) of MENA companies engage in CSR activities. The top CSR causes that professionals feel their organisation should be involved in are: providing job opportunities (35%), preservation of the environment (30%), supporting orphans (28%), providing training and job opportunities (27%), medical support programmes (such as blood donation drives) (26%), and human rights support (25%).
Taking all of these factors into consideration, here are a few questions you should ask in order to find a social cause that will be both fulfilling and enhancing to your corporate profile:
1. What are your organization’s values?
While there are a range of CSR initiatives for your company to pick and choose from, the best match should be the one that fits in well with your corporate mission, vision and values statement.
2. How much are you willing to invest in time and other resources?
While all causes are noble, your company’s resources are limited. If you have zeroed down on a list of options for CSR initiatives, run a feasibility study for each. Can you afford to lose the man-hours? Do you have the financial resources to back this project? Is it logistically feasible? A good idea would also be to approach this the other way round: first define your resources available (financial, man hours, skills), then select the CSR projects that match well to these limits.
3. Do your employees feel strongly about the cause?
For your CSR program to be successful, it is important that the cause you select will be one that your team is passionate about. After all, it is their enthusiastic participation that will make your effort a success. A good idea would also be to associate with a cause that is timely, such as flood relief.
4. What will your team gain?
While this may not be a deciding question, it is important to consider the answer to this. CSR activities definitely boost your corporate brand equity and your team’s motivation levels, but what does your team gain? Does this initiative give them valuable project management skills for time-sensitive projects? Does it offer opportunities to develop better internal relationships among your teammates? Can your team gain valuable job-related skills while making a social impact?
We hope these questions will help you create a truly meaningful and memorable CSR project for your company.