New or small businesses may think of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs as something belonging in the domain of larger companies, but that is not necessarily true. There are many ways that small or mid-sized companies can develop social partnerships that also make good business sense.
Recently, the Business Council of Westchester held its first Thompkins Mahopac Bank Power Breakfast, a panel titled “Corporate Social Responsibility – Social Partnerships that Make Good Business Sense: Part II,” moderated by Jennifer Flowers Founder & CEO, Accreditation Guru, Inc. (AG). The CSR topic was brought back by popular demand, as in 2017 Jennifer moderated part 1, “Corporate Social Responsibility Done Right,” which broke attendance records for a Power Breakfast. Both programs featured a distinguished panel of local business leaders and drew well over 100 attendees. Key themes discussed included factors in determining a social responsibility program that makes sense for one’s business (with a focus on small and mid-sized); a lively discussion about promotion of efforts; and the effects that socially responsibility programs have on company culture, identity, and employee retention.
One issue that was discussed during the above-mentioned CSR panels was how smart partnering between for-profits and nonprofits is one way to create value for both the business and society simultaneously. Management time and resources are limited, so the greatest opportunities will come from areas where the business significantly interacts with—and thus can have the greatest impact on—society. Finding the right nonprofits to collaborate with will be those that benefit from your core business activities and capabilities—and that the company can benefit from in turn. Many mid- to smaller- sized businesses choose to collaborate with agencies in their hometown or county, thus focusing on impacting the community closest to them.
Some companies approach CSR as a way to demonstrate commitment to various causes, which can improve the public image of an organization of any size. The increased media coverage that can come from corporate involvement in the community may enhance relationships with existing clients and go a long way to attracting new ones. Of course, there are also the intangibles—the positive changes in corporate culture that come from a workforce that feels good about what they do in and out of the office. With the visibility of actual involvement, companies large and small have the ability to improve their name recognition, their brand recognition, as well as improving the public perception of the company as a whole.
Businesses often find that by having a CSR program, it will, in turn, lead to higher employee engagement. As Forbes reported in September of 2017, when Millennials are considering applying for a job, their top priority is what the company sells and/or produces. But beyond compensation and benefits, what matters most to them is the company’s work culture, involvement with causes, office environment and attention to diversity. Millennials are increasingly engaging with causes and tend to believe that a company that is committed to socially responsible causes will care about treating them well too, thus increasing their loyalty to the company.
Here at Accreditation Guru, corporate social responsibility lies at the heart of who we are as a professional, service-oriented organization. AG is committed to volunteering its professional services (including nonprofit governance expertise and guidance), offering financial support, and volunteering for fundraising and other sustaining events, to a variety of local nonprofit associations as a way of giving back to the community and, most especially, lending a hand to those in need. AG also encourages all team members to give back and volunteer within their own communities.
In keeping with our core focus of working with human service agencies across North America, in 2017 AG proudly joined Westchester Companies for Kids (WC4K) in supporting Westchester Children’s Association, whose vision helps every Westchester child be healthy, safe and prepared for life’s challenges.
Accreditation Guru also supports the Northeast STEM Starter Academy at Mount Vernon (NSSA). NSSA’s mission is to expose at-risk students to state-of-the-art science and technology resources and provide them with inspiration and pathways for eventual careers in the STEM sectors.
Never think that your organization is too new or too small to give back in a meaningful way. There are numerous opportunities and benefits to doing good for society while also being good for business. You just need to find the right fit and then get started!