It’s Not the Budget: The Real Reasons Most Corporate Social Responsibility Underperform.
It never fails that each time I speak, afterwards someone tells me that while they’d love to build a more significant community engagement or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, they can’t because their leadership team isn’t willing to invest the time and resources to make it work.
My answer is usually a surprise: if you’re already doing something, building an effective CSR or Community Engagement Strategy should require almost NO additional out-of-pocket funding to be effective. Many organizations have already committed to some sort of employee engagement, corporate social responsibility or community engagement budget; they’re just not using that budget effectively to drive the desired results.
In my experience, there are 5 common reasons well-intentioned community engagement or CSR programs fail:
· Leadership is inadvertently getting in the way of the goals of the programs.
This might look like a leader who speaks highly of the importance of volunteering, but doesn’t include these activities as part of an employee development opportunity, or perhaps a leader who can recite a mission of safety but isn’t willing to invest in necessary safety equipment.
· There are 5,000 other things to spend money on.
No matter the health of an organization, this is always the case. However, this issue typically appears when budgets are tight and past metrics (if they exist) aren’t strong enough to justify a continued investment of time and financial resources. And this is human nature: it’s hard to worry about others when your employees are complaining about uncomfortable chairs!
· No one asked the employees what they care about!
Many community engagement programs have evolved through the years, and so reflect the interests and passions of the founder. While this is a great attribute if the programs accurately reflect the values and vision of your organization, what served you well 25 years ago may not serve you well for the next 25 as the demographics or diversity of your organization change. Also, as a side-note: meaningless activities don’t drive meaningful outcomes.
· Your people aren’t walking the talk.
Unfortunately, this one often shows up too far down the road when business operations unintentionally (or intentionally at times) collide with the vision of your business. Wells Fargo. Volkswagen. BP, are all examples that come to mind. See bullet point #1 for more detail.
· Your marketing team isn’t talking the walk.
68% of job seekers say they want to work for a socially responsible company. 98% of consumers care to hear about your CSR content. However, oftentimes marketing teams don’t think of this as an option for engaging consumers (or help with recruiting.) Working together with your marketing team can help an authentic story based on the business you want to build.
If your organization has spent time and resources building a community engagement program and aren’t seeing success, our B.E.G.I.N process has tools and resources to help you build an effective program without requiring a significant investment. Of course, once your leadership team sees the impact a few small tweaks can make, your leadership team will be clamoring to find ways to engage more deeply.
Ready to get started building an effective CSR Program? Our On-Demand, DIY training program is slated to start November 1. Pre-register using code EARLYBIRD by October 6 and save 50% off the initial program pricing.