Posted by Lisa Montagna on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 11:00
There are many benefits to being a company with strong corporate citizenship practices. Here’s an overview of why corporate citizenship is important and some tips for getting started.
Corporate citizenship is one of those terms you have probably heard a lot about but may not fully understand. According to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, “At its core, corporate citizenship is about the role business plays in 21st century society. It encompasses corporate activities related to community involvement, philanthropy, environmental, and governance issues.”
That might seem a bit overwhelming to a small business owner. You may be thinking, “How can I do this at my company?” Let’s simplify it. Have you ever donated items to a charity fundraiser or volunteered to stock shelves at a food bank? You are already on your way to becoming a good corporate citizen!
Why Corporate Citizenship Matters
If you have struggled to keep a full staff, implementing a corporate citizenship program could help your recruiting efforts and lead the way to happier, more loyal employees who want to stay put. In fact, in a survey by OfficeTeam, 42 percent of workers said an organization’s participation in charitable activities would be at least somewhat of a factor in choosing an employer. In short, supporting your community is a win-win proposition.
How to Get Started
Developing a corporate citizenship program may sound daunting, but starting out can be quite simple. Let’s take a look at a few ideas on how to jump in, focusing on volunteering and philanthropy.
- Test the waters. One of the most common barriers to volunteering is not knowing where to look for opportunities. Here’s where your network — both social and personal — can help. Post a request on your Facebook or LinkedIn page, talk to friends and family members, or use a search tool specific to volunteering, like VolunteerMatch, to search your city for current volunteer needs. After volunteering, report back to your team and see if anyone wants to join you next time.
- Poll your employees. When building a corporate citizenship program, it’s a good idea to talk to your employees about their personal interests, which likely run the gamut from animal welfare to hunger to literacy to childhood cancer. Consider polling your team to see if any one specific interest rises to the top or vote for different activities to pursue on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
- Add a dose of competition. Once your program gains steam, you can introduce a bit of friendly competition into the mix. For example, if hunger relief is your volunteer focus for the quarter, you can award a prize to the department that collects the most canned goods. While the real reward is the benefit to your local community, you also could include a treat for the team along with a donation to the charity of their choice.
- Smile and get social. Take a group photo at every volunteer outing and tweet the photo. Don’t forget to include the Twitter handle of the nonprofit! This is a simple and effective way to alert your network to the work your company is doing in the community. It could be particularly important for businesses that are relocating to a new area or opening an office in a new market.
- Lace up! One of the most popular programs we have at Robert Half is our support of activity-based fundraising. Through our matching-gifts program, employees can earn a match for money they raise participating in a charity run or walk. It may not be something every small business can do, but it is worth considering when you are trying to organize a team for a charity outing. Remember: It doesn’t have to be a lot of money; even a few hundred dollars can demonstrate your commitment to employees.
In Robert Half’s 2015 Corporate Citizenship Report, our chairman and CEO, Max Messmer, noted: “It’s important that we do well by doing good.” This sentiment sums up corporate citizenship for today’s business leaders. Hopefully these tips will give you the confidence you need to start a corporate citizenship program at your firm.
Download our 2015 Corporate Citizenship Report to learn more about the many ways Robert Half supports our communities — and, perhaps, inspire some ideas about what you can do at your company!
Editor’s Note: Robert Half is a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and a client of VolunteerMatch.