How a New CEO Can Change Company Mindset On CSR

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By Noel Griffith

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an often overlooked area within small to medium organizations. It’s not just large companies that have a responsibility to give back to their communities, neither is it just large companies that can benefit from being active in their communities with their CSR work.

CSR typically relies on man-hours, and in my experience, the amount of people willing to put in those man hours varies greatly from company to company. The willingness of employees to go out into the community and make a difference stems from two things:

  • The culture already in place in the organization
  • The participation and involvement from the C-suite of the organization

Both of these areas are driven by the CEO with support from the C-suite. The perfect time to make cultural changes and implement a CSR program that employees are going to be enthusiastic about and want to be involved in is when a new CEO comes into an organization.

Being a CEO who makes an impact and changes culture within an organization

I’ve seen new CEOs enter an organization with all the best intentions yet fail to make a positive impact time and time again. To make a real difference, and a difference that lasts, you need to be a leader who possesses individuality, character, forward-thinking, a varied skill-set and a real, tangible human aspect.

If you want your staff to follow your CSR directive and believe in what they are doing, they need to see how much it means to you. I am always amazed when I hear CEOs tell me that CSR isn’t important to their company, or they don’t think it makes enough impact on their bottom line to invest time and money.

CSR makes a huge difference to any company, no matter what size. The four key areas CSR has a positive effect on are:

  • Improving the public image of the organization
  • Building employee relationships
  • Helping to secure new investors
  • Improving company exposure and media coverage

If you look at any of those four points above, it should be easy to see how you can improve the internal and external relationships for your organization.

When entering a new organization, to change the mindset and culture that’s already well-rooted in regard to CSR you need to address the following:

  • Improve employee awareness to the benefits of CSR
  • Demonstrate your willingness to get involved
  • Form a CSR team and assign responsibilities to employees

If you incorporate all of the above, you are not only leading by example, but you are also empowering others to have an active responsibility in the company’s CSR objective. Empowering others and delegating responsibility gives them something to own.

The most effective and proactive companies always have a CSR team. This is a small group of people that get together weekly to discuss new projects and share feedback on past projects.

It’s not just the employees’ attitude to CSR that can be changed by implementing these changes. You can start to grow a more productive culture. Strengthen employee relationships, and strengthen the whole core of your organization.

You can’t force or fake company culture. Culture has to be grown and managed by everyone within the organization. You are in the position to facilitate and oversee this, and for me is one of the key, pivotal roles of a CEO.

Your company image is driven by the quality of CSR work you carry out in the community. This can’t be faked either. Showing a genuine willingness from the top, down to the middle-management and base employee level, is imperative. So form a CSR committee today, empower your employees to take control of new CSR projects, and take an active part yourself.

Noel Griffith has worked as a careers advisor and recruitment consultant for a number of years both on a one-to-one basis and with large corporations. Finding a passion for blogging and sharing his experiences with a wider audience in recent years you can find him at careerswiki.com, or contact him directly at careerswiki1@gmail.com.

Image credit: John Benson, Flickr

Corporate Responsibility

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