Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a type of self-regulation that enables a business to be socially accountable to its employees, stakeholders, and local community. CSR typically involves the conscious effort to understand and optimize the organization’s impact on a broad range of societal factors. This includes its economic and environmental footprint, as well as its influence on culture.
The interrelationship between the community, the workplace, and the employee is also known to influence employee health and well-being, as well as the health and performance of the organization.
Surveyed Canadian employees say they want to work for companies that give back to the local community. Many would even switch jobs to work for an organization that takes corporate citizenship seriously.
Understanding the impacts of CSR on the community
When companies do business, they have a direct impact on the local community. There’s a natural give and take that occurs as they employ local workers and utilize local resources. CSR helps companies ensure their impact is beneficial.
Finding balance within economic decisions is a core component of CSR. By examining their overall effect on society, companies can enhance their business operations while also promoting sustainability. For example, a company that chooses to use recycled products can lower its costs while also consuming fewer natural resources.
Ethical business practices ensure that when companies grow, it is not at the expense of the local labor force. Promoting equal opportunities for people of all genders, races, abilities, and ethnic backgrounds is one example of ethical labor practices. Meeting high ethical standards can improve diversity of thought within the organization, leading to increased innovation. In addition, experienced professionals from the local talent pool will be more likely to view the company as a good employer.
Like good citizens, companies that commit to CSR often engage in philanthropic initiatives to support those in need. Direct giving, such as donations to local charitable organizations, is just one example. Companies may also sponsor volunteer programs that allow employees to donate their time in support of a cause.
As awareness of environmental issues becomes more prevalent, more companies are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and support sustainability initiatives. For example, businesses may audit their impact on air and water quality as well as their land use. Investments in green technology can provide economic value as well as environmental benefits.
How Canadian employees feel about CSR
Across industries, Canadian employees and job seekers feel strongly about CSR. In fact, a 2018 survey from Randstad found that 77% of Canadians only want to work for an organization with a strong CSR program.
In the competition for talent, companies cannot afford to ignore CSR. When Canadians seek out job opportunities, they’re considering a lot more than a potential paycheque. They’re also looking at the ethical reputation of employers. Roughly 55% of job seekers say it is important to them that companies participate in charitable and philanthropic initiatives.
Companies can attract experienced workers by offering opportunities to give back to the community. Programs that encourage active participation are very attractive to Canadian employees. For example, 71% of Canadians say they would do unpaid volunteer work if their employer gave them paid time-off to do so.
CSR is a force for good that benefits everyone involved. Effective CSR programs help to attract and retain top talent and provide many other benefits to companies.
How companies benefit from CSR
Though CSR has become a key aspect of many company’s operations, there’s still room for improvement. According to Benefits Canada, 48% of private organizations don’t have any CSR policies in place.
Understanding the tangible and intangible benefits of CSR is an important step in enacting positive change. When corporate leaders prioritize CSR, employees and members of the community take notice.
Companies known for their ethical conduct and commitment to CSR have more opportunities to spread awareness of their brand in a positive light. Better brand recognition can lead to better financial performance through increased customer loyalty, for example. A well-managed CSR program can become a competitive advantage.
A majority of Canadian job seekers consider CSR when looking for work, but the benefits extend beyond talent attraction. CSR can also have a positive impact on employee health and well-being.
A 2019 survey of employees who participated in corporate-sponsored volunteer programs found that 3 out of 4 respondents said they felt less isolated and more connected to their communities than before they participated.
In addition, volunteer opportunities that get office workers up and moving can have a positive impact on their physical health. For example, adults over 50 who volunteer on a regular basis are less likely to develop high blood pressure, which contributes to heart disease.
All of this contributes to employee happiness and satisfaction, which can lower rates of absenteeism and improve worker engagement.
Reducing waste and emissions through responsible resource consumption can have a doubly positive impact. On the one hand, ethical use of resources benefits the environment. On the other, it helps companies save money on utilities and materials costs. Plus, improved employee retention lowers hiring expenses.
Giving back to the community
Employers and employees have a direct impact on local communities. When corporate leaders take a meaningful approach to their organization’s relationship with its surrounding environment, everyone wins.
Through volunteerism, innovative technologies, charitable giving, and similar efforts, companies can increase their value to the local culture. Effective CSR strategies improve the economic situation and create more opportunities for everyone to succeed.
Learn more about how CSR impacts employee health and well-being by downloading your free copy of our Healthy Workplace Standard.