Why is CSR important for today’s leader?

As the world changes at the fastest rate in history, business leaders realise they need to change just as quickly to keep up or, even better, move ahead of the times.

One area that is constantly in the mind, in the decisions and in the behaviours of many of today’s successful leaders is corporate social responsibility or more commonly referred as its acronym of CSR.

No longer is CSR just about being a good corporate citizen, it underpins what a company stands for and directs its path for success.

Leaders set the platform for CSR in their business.

There is a new age of leader that commands respect and admiration in society. It is a leader who has a noble cause central to their vision of business success as well as being viable and profitable.

These leaders do not just exist in social services or charitable funds.

You will find them stepping up to lead our public companies, changing the thinking in our government institutions, and forging new paths in privately-owned enterprises through their ‘heart-centred’ philosophies and activities.

These leaders rank ‘making a difference’ just as highly as ‘making money’.

You could call it ‘For Profit’ practicality merged with ‘Not For Profit’ idealism creating leaders who run businesses to do well as a force for doing good in society.

Many of these leaders come from the ranks of the entrepreneurial Gen Ys; the socially aware Gen Xs; and the legacy creating Baby Boomers. And they all realise that for our world to remain sustainable, their businesses need a distinct purpose to better the society for which we live.

This purpose or CSR will provide significant benefits for the business to maintain relevance in today’s world.

It will help your company:

  1. retain and attract investors;
  2. enhance relationships with staff, clients and the media;
  3. become an employer of choice for the top echelon of staff; and,
  4. provide opportunity for team and personal development.

1. Retain and attract investors

Investors who are pouring money into companies want to know that their funds are being used to create success.

Investors are more likely to support companies that demonstrate a commitment not only to employees and customers, but also to causes and organisations that positively impact the lives of others or the world around them.

Not only does this mean that corporations must have sound business plans and budgets, but it also means that they should have a purpose-driven CSR strategy.

It’s interesting to note that 93 percent of Fortune 250 companies now publish annual CSR reports!

2. Enhance relationships with staff, clients and media

Employees are inspired to work with a company they respect.

Customers would prefer to buy products or services from a business that contributes back to the community.

Media will report on programs or projects that positively impact on society which then helps create a good reputation.

3. Become an employer of choice

Being an employer of choice typically means the company’s ability to attract and retain high calibre staff.

A robust CSR framework can help a company become more attractive as more people look to workplaces that are dedicated to improving their communities through socially responsible practices, community mindedness, team building and sound ethics.

Statistics also highlight that nearly 60% of employees who are proud of their company’s social responsibility are engaged within their jobs.

Many people are so stretched with their time these days that they are also looking to the workplace to enable them to have a positive impact on the world rather than just doing their job.

4. Provide opportunity for team and personal development

CSR activities enable staff to be involved in a cause they are passionate about or learn something new which can enrich their own perspectives.

They can also develop new skills which can often be applied in their work.

These activities can be beneficial for corporate training and also for team building. It is inspiring for people to work together on a project that has a positive outcome for the community.

Most leaders want to do good and be associated with good in the world.

Keeping social responsibility front of mind encourages leaders to act ethically and to consider the social and environmental impacts of both their own actions and their business.

A sound, robust corporate social responsibility program and mindset can genuinely help organisations deliver public value by focussing on how their services make a difference in the community.

True success comes when you focus on the bigger picture and here, the bigger picture isn’t just about the bottom line — it’s part of it and it’s also about trying to change the world for the better.

Anita Kropacsy is Corporate Training Manager for Corporate Challenge Events – a specialist in training leaders in areas including CSR across Australia and New Zealand.

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