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Often companies are layered with teams that perform CSR activities on a routine basis or hold relevant CSR data but do not realize how their activities or information can roll up into the larger company-wide CSR strategy. You as CSR professionals can help other departments within your company identify relevant CSR information and develop a plan to share that data. Here are three partners you can reach out to within your company, and ideas on how they may be able to contribute to your CSR efforts.
Team building has been linked to increased productivity at work and was deemed the most important investment a company can make by Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands. Many companies allocate a small portion of dollars in each department’s budget for team building activities, and depending on the leadership within those departments, sometimes the budget dollars are used for simple things like team lunches, but other times, especially during the holiday seasons, the dollars are used to “give back” via a small monetary or product donation that is part of a team service activity. This type of team building happens quite often and may go untracked, though the data can enhance your CSR performance.
Partner with your finance team to get quarterly reports of departments that are using budget dollars allotted for team building. This key information provides a tool CSR can use to contact other departments and inquire about whether volunteer hours or donations were logged in the appropriate systems. Implementing such collaboration with finance can be very beneficial if you are concerned about capturing all the CSR activity within your company because it provides systematic follow-up opportunities to collect all relevant data.
Due to the constant evolution of technology, the tech needs within companies regularly change and need to be updated or upgraded to keep the business operating efficiently and securely. Companies tend to replace computers and other commonly used equipment every three to five years, subsequently creating the need to discard outdated devices. You may choose to donate old equipment to schools or nonprofits, but to do so effectively, capturing the knowledge of your Information Technology (IT) team regarding technology upgrades is critical, especially if the IT team has no idea its knowledge contributes to CSR strategy.
Use the information gathered from the IT team to plan impactful in-kind donations. Know when large quantities of devices will be available to donate and identify in advance recipients who are most in need. Incorporate the fair market value of donated items into your reporting and communications, as well as an estimated operational value that includes how long the donated devices are expected to operate before needing to be replaced and how much money the nonprofit partner will save as a result.
Corporate sustainability is a fairly new focus for many CSR teams. In 1994, John Elkington coined the term “triple bottom line” calling on businesses to focus on three main areas: people, planet, and profit to be successful. Afterward, sustainability became more mainstream and companies began to publish sustainability reports in an effort to demonstrate a commitment to the environment.
The growing discussions around climate change, in the last few years, have created a sense of urgency for more companies to build a strong sustainability strategy. However, many are still in the development stages and may not realize how much information the facilities team at your company has that is CSR related. Facilities often track data regarding environmental impact such as emissions, waste management, and resource use. You can incorporate this information into annual CSR reports, traditional and social media strategy, and investor relations efforts. Even if your company has a strong sustainability strategy, consider meeting with your facilities team at least twice a year to see if any practices have changed that may result in new data they can share to support your CSR strategy.
Overall, there is an overwhelming amount of data within most companies that CSR teams have yet to access. Consider partnering with Finance, IT, and Facilities to establish regular reporting or discussion times to assist in planning and implementing your CSR strategy. If your CSR team currently partners with these departments, conduct regular exploratory work sessions to see what is changing and what new information the other teams have that you need. You’ll be sure to find more and more data that can contribute to your CSR success.
Rita L. Garza
Principal at Rhythm Strategy Consultancy
A woman and minority-owned boutique advisory firm, focuses on enterprise-wide impact by delivering custom solutions to your corporate social responsibility, marketing communications and change management needs to support both emerging and established companies with strategic insight or technical assistance. She brings more than 25 years of executive-level experience within a diverse range of sectors: sports, financial services, telecommunications, utilities, and health care. Rita received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from The University of Texas at Austin and as a National Urban Fellow received a master’s degree in Public Administration with honors from Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York.