A key concern for companies interested in sustainability and employee loyalty, corporate social responsibility continues to be a hot topic. We take a closer look at what’s at stake for companies and the various issues surrounding this multi-faceted concept.
Ethics and transparency
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the strategies a company puts in place which encourage and respect sustainable development, whether that be social, economic or environmental. In November 2010 the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) published the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility, in which it gave the following definition:
« Social corporate responsibility is the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour, that contributes to sustainable development, including health and the welfare of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and is integrated throughout the organization and practised in its relationships ».
CSR: a communication tool and a means for development
Ideas about corporate social responsibility are nothing new! The concept dates back to 1953 in the United States, when Howard Bowen published his book ‘Social Responsibilities of the Businessman.’ Today, CSR is considered as one of the key issues of the 21st century! It is seen as an invaluable communication and development tool for companies who are interested in improving their brand image and attracting more ethically-minded consumers, who are looking for organisations with more transparent policies.
Generation Y searching for direction
Nonetheless, consumers are not the only ones who seem to be receptive to corporate social responsibility. Employees are also highly mindful of the concept. A study carried out by Deloitte in 2017 revealed that Generation Y are particularly attached to ethical behaviour. The study analysed the views of 7700 people from 29 different countries and revealed that 56% of young millennials would not consider working with certain employers due to their values or behaviour. 49% have even refused working with companies because of their ethical policies. Almost 9 out of 10 employees believe that an organisation’s success should be measured based on criteria other than its financial results. For example, they believe that the way a company helps to develop and support its talents, how it behaves with its customers and how it contributes to society, are all factors which should be taken into account. According to Alain Pons, Deloitte France’s CEO: « Generation Y expects more from companies than 50, 20 or even 10 years ago. Two thirds of millennials express their desire to leave their current company by 2020, and 44% of them in the next few years. They have a pretty strong message for managers all over the world: do business, of course, but do it responsibly and sustainably. Organisations must drastically review their very purpose in light of what the leaders of tomorrow consider to be their priority ».
More loyal employees thanks to corporate social responsibility
Another study on employee commitment, carried out by Cone Communications in 2016 supports these findings and has revealed that 51% of employees, from all generations, do not want to work for a company that does not have a strong social or environmental commitment. 58% even claim that CSR is an important element they consider when choosing a job, sometimes even more so than the proposed salary. Over 70% say that they would feel more fulfilled in their job and more loyal to their company if the company itself was truly invested in a social responsibility policy.
What’s more, employers must think about getting their employees involved! Employees believe that it is essential their company shares their CSR objectives and progress with them, as they need to be informed of the various actions in place. However, there is still work to be done. In a study relayed by the website e-RSE, only 6% of French employees feel truly involved in their company’s CSR actions and 59% maintain they are not sufficiently informed.
To conclude, CSR is a major issue for organisations. If companies work on meeting the expectations of tomorrow’s leaders, they can succeed in securing the loyalty of today’s talents. By investing in corporate responsibility policies, organisations can improve their employee experience and boost their brand image, whilst contributing to the welfare of society.
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