Is the R in CSR Starting to Diminish in Value?

grass in the shape of an R

It goes without saying that CSR efforts are a noble and necessary aspect to big corporate culture, however what happens when being socially responsible starts to lose its gravity and significance within a company? An article posted by Fastcoexist.com highlights a report on CSR conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The report surveyed close to 100 CSR professionals on the state of CSR today.

One of the more interesting findings was that, while CSR professionals typically enjoy their work, they don’t always see a future in it. This is largely because there is no clearly established CSR career ladder. The article explains, “The CSR field is barely 30 years old, and what, exactly, a corporate responsibility professional does it still up for debate.” This begs the question, how can companies ensure their CSR professionals are continually motivated, and, in turn, boost the impact and reach of their CSR efforts?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce report suggests that companies make it clear to future business leaders and jobseekers that “CR knowledge and skills are valuable and part of what they want to see in future employees.” However, there is more to invigorating CSR professionals than just instilling a sense of need. There are obvious benefits for large companies that pursue CSR programs, but achieving the right relationship between a company’s brand and its philanthropic efforts is a delicate balancing act.

In The Halo Effect, we examined the difficult task of balancing authenticity and reputation in CSR efforts. In the spirit of this whitepaper, we’ve found that there are no easy answers when it comes to proper CSR practices. While developing CSR as an academic field of study may help to make it a more credible and concrete career path for future generations of business professionals, a more tangible solution involves raising the profile of CSR within the organization itself.

After all, what better way to rejuvenate a CSR initiative then by galvanizing the people who make the company function successfully and flourish? Employees represent the most powerful brand communications channel, and keeping them informed and engaged in CSR activities can not only add a sense of excitement and commitment among the workforce, but also authenticity and validity to the good works being done. As we examined in a recent article, finding out what motivates employees to get involved in CSR activities and then building a communications campaign around those inspirations can go a long way in driving participation.

If CSR professionals are able to renew enthusiasm in a cause on behalf of the company, then the entire workforce will feel more pride in the work they have accomplished together, as well as the company itself. In addition, CSR professionals will feel increasingly valued and appreciated because their company supports them in the initiatives they’ve implemented. While this may not solve the problem of validating the CSR profession itself, it is certainly a win-win for the organization.

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