In the constantly evolving business environment, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has fast become integral piece of the puzzle for running a successful business or brand.
In a world where people want to make a difference more than ever and want their employers, brands and businesses to be actively involved in the world in which they operate, Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of Manpower South Africa looks at the effect of CSR on company culture.
“We see that, increasingly, employees and citizens are expecting businesses and corporations to become involved and take on projects that leave a lasting impact,” she explains.
This is proven in the results of the Prosumer Report titled Communities & Citizenship: redesigned for a new world, which found that over 60% of all respondents (aged between 18 and 55+, including mainstream and prosumers) agreed that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place. The same amount of respondents also agreed that business bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change.
“As a lasting legacy of the global economic slowdown and the subsequent slow recovery, companies are under pressure and where jobs were lost, the remaining employees often have to take on a bigger workload. Under these circumstances, companies need to, more than ever, display their human side.
“An inspired CSR approach is one way to achieve this, and if it is sincere, may even serve the secondary purpose of retaining or attracting talent, especially from the younger generations looking to enter the workplace.”
Once a company decides to adopt a committed CSR strategy the first consideration is that of culture. This has two components, company culture and country culture. The former is centred on the way the company wants employees to view the company. In other words, the causes chosen to support must be ones that the company truly cares about and want its employees to become passionate about as well.
In terms of country culture, it is not simply good enough to choose a campaign that worked well elsewhere in the world and believe that it will have the same effect when implemented under local conditions.
“People gravitate towards programmes that have the potential to make a lasting impact on a particular community, especially if there is a vision to export it to other communities once success is achieved,” says Van den Barselaar. “This vision of making a real difference to the country may be ambitious, but it is this ambition that fires up the passions of those involved.”
CSR is not just about helping others and creating a feel-good atmosphere in the office. It is also a confirmation from the company that it understands its responsibility towards the world in which it operates. Furthermore, it contributes towards a positive company culture that employees can be proud of.
“At Manpower South Africa, we have learned from personal experience, the positive effect that CSR can have on a company’s culture and employee satisfaction, through our BBBEE partnership with the Imvula Education Empowerment Fund,” explains van den Barselaar. “When employees feel proud of and inspired by their organisation’s initiatives, it truly shows in their commitment to the company and their role within it.”
A strong commitment to CSR should be central to any company that is looking to remain successful and relevant within the modern business environment.