Corporate Social Responsibility: Do Companies Have a Responsibility to Their Communities?

July 5, 2015

John Kimball

John Kimball, President and CEO at Convention Data Services. John places great importance on the value of relationships in business and attributes his successful 20-year career in the tradeshow industry to this principle. 

More than ever, employees and customers want to work for and with a company with a strong social conscience. Developing a social conscience for your company not only impacts the greater good of society but it has a positive effect on employee morale and customer loyalty.

Corporate Social Responsibility: “The continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large." (Source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

Do companies have a responsibility to their communities? The resounding answer is yes! Companies, no matter the size, do not operate in a bubble. The decisions a company makes impact their employees, customers and vendors, all of whom are part of the communities they serve. When companies get involved in helping their community it creates a positive domino effect on those they aid. Companies need to take the lead on this because if they don’t there’s no guarantee that someone else will.

What are the benefits to your business? Giving to a charity either financially or through volunteer hours gives employees a greater sense of purpose and connection to the community. This type of commitment ultimately builds a stronger community and results in more positive contributors to society that will drive your business. Company leaders need to understand that it is not enough to only be responsive in the midst of a natural disaster or crisis. It’s about contributing and building a community all year long.

According to the 2015 annual Edelman Trust Barometer Global Study, respondents decisively indicated that business shoulders a responsibility to deliver both economic and societal benefits. Specifically, 81 percent of the 33,000 respondents agree that a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.

(Source: 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, conducted by research firm Edelman Berland)

CDS has always made monetary donations to worthy causes, but a few years ago I made the decision to expand our commitment, create a formal corporate giving program and begin a legacy of giving. We knew that in order to make it successful we needed to get input from our employees about what features they would like to see included in the program.

Three things stood out:

1.       Give employees a voice and make them part of the decision-making process.

2.      Create a corporate giving committee comprised of employees at all levels within the company where the members rotate so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.

3.      Include paid time off for employees to volunteer their time at their favorite charity.

It only takes a few seconds to write a check. The difficult part is giving by donating time. Time is such a limited and precious resource; therefore, the donation of even a couple of hours to a nonprofit organization can be very impactful to employees and the organizations they touch. For our employees, the ability to volunteer their time was a critical component.

Thinking about creating a program for your organization? Here’s how to begin:

·         Involve your employees in the decision-making process.

·         Decide whether your program will benefit a broad range of nonprofit organizations or target a few specific areas of interest.

·         Determine the components of your giving program such as company donations, sponsorships, employee matching donations and/or time off for employees to volunteer their time at their favorite charities. Survey employees to gauge their interests.

·         Consider focusing on local charities for a greater impact and opportunity for employees to get involved in volunteering.

·         Get everyone at all levels of the company involved and passionate about donating or volunteering.

·         Have your company management involved—lead by example.

Start small and create a ripple effect. Make giving contagious and fun!

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