Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Five Tips for an Effective CSR Program by guest blogger, Bob Gogel

Increasingly, companies are committing to making a positive social or environmental impact on the communities where they operate.  But despite their growth in popularity, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are not easy to execute effectively.

At Integreon, we designed our CSR program to build upon our operational strengths. As a global outsourcing company providing integrated legal, research and business support solutions, our strengths include an educated, global and multilingual workforce, as well as integrated technology that connects our associates around the world.

We’ve created a series of live-streamed educational classes that allow our associates to teach classes to underprivileged children who lack access to quality education; so far, teaching hearing impaired children in India from Fargo, North Dakota. Soon, we will be expanding our relationship with this school by involving more of our associates, who can teach courses in many different subjects, including English. These experiences give our associates and the children they teach the opportunity to learn from each other by crossing cultural boundaries with the help of video conferencing technology. This is just one example of our CSR efforts at work; below are additional tips for maximizing a CSR program.

Top five tips for effective CSR:

1) Develop a clear mission & objectives: To gain traction internally around a CSR program, it’s important to develop a clear mission statement or an explanation of your company’s values, and how those values will be carried out in your CSR program. Especially for global businesses, it is crucial to establish common principles that all employees can unite around, whether they’re in London or Mumbai.

2) Demonstrate a measurable impact: The programs and initiatives your company implements will have real effects on people. Each annual CSR report provides an opportunity to track your company’s impact in a tangible, measurable way. At the end of 2012 for instance, The Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 initiative, a global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020, was able to report it was operating in 12 countries and had impacted approximately 300,000 women.

3) Tell a story with your CSR program: While numbers and exact forms of measurement are critical success factors, there is an opportunity to bring programs to life by sharing compelling stories. For example, an employee’s experience donating holiday gifts to children or running in a 5K to support a charity will emphasize your program’s positive impact through tangible examples.

4) Let your employees be ambassadors of your program: Employees are often the ones doing the work of reaching out to local communities, so give them the recognition they deserve. CSR reports, corporate websites and internal communications all present ideal opportunities to showcase employees’ volunteer efforts or charitable donations. In addition, personalized employee testimonials about a volunteer experience can bring a CSR report to life.

5) Evolve to meet society’s expectations: As society’s needs change, you may need to evolve and/or expand your CSR program. Listening to your key stakeholders and being open to change will be critical success factors for an effective program.  TOMS, for example, recently expanded on its “buy one, give one” business model when it opened a manufacturing center in Haiti, a country where TOMS distributes shoes. This new strategy allows TOMS to improve people’s lives beyond “buy one, give one” by offering a stable source of employment to local residents.
Bob Gogel, CEO of Integreon, a global provider of integrated legal, research and business support solutions, has more than three decades of experience as both a provider and purchaser of global outsourcing, technology and consulting services. He is also co-founder of a leading think tank – the European Executive Council (EEC), the editor-in-chief of The State of the European Union annual conference, and a member of the faculty teaching the MBA program at HEC in Paris and Shanghai.