By Daphne Stanford
For those in human resources who want to help correct societal imbalance on a palpable level, greater attention to corporate social responsibility and a diversity-minded hiring policy is a good start. Specifically, the need to reform what is considered positive and ideal behavior — as opposed to merely aiming for what is acceptable — in our communities, our places of work and our day-to-day lives will necessitate a multi-pronged approach. The process may feel overwhelming at first. However, that’s where our responsibility in making concrete changes to workplace policies and procedures comes into play.
Finding purpose in the business world is no easy feat, but it’s becoming more and more feasible. This is true in part because of the priorities of millennials, Generation Y and even Generation X: They’ve shifted quite notably to the left. Although many workers from younger generations value CSR, these values are trickling over into older generations, as well. What this means for proponents of CSR and progressive values like green technology, more inclusive hiring policies, and better gender equity policies like fair family leave and equal pay for equal work is that there is a greater number of socially responsible companies. This translates, of course, to more and better options for job-seekers hoping to find a better match between their values and their place of work.
In Forbes article published at the start of the year, Susan McPherson of McPherson Strategies predicted five CSR trends would take off in 2016. And one of them was social justice — also at the forefront of many people’s minds in the wake of the recent spates of police-related violence involving African-American men. In addition to a move toward more cultural and ethnic diversity, there are gender and sexuality-neutral policies conscious and inclusive of LGBTQIA individuals.
We can each start by examining how we interact with colleagues on a daily basis, both in the ‘real world’ and online, via forums like Slack Chat and email. Corporate social responsibility is two-pronged: there are the broader policies implemented by the company designed specifically to benefit society and the communities around it; and the second part concerns internal HR policies affecting social dynamics within the company itself—that is, the interactions between departments, as well as within them.
The result of this increased awareness is a growing sense that it’s not enough for a company to focus on profit-making or a robust stock portfolio, anymore. Rather, companies should strive toward a greater sense of purpose resembling the values of many not-for-profit organizations. These values include not only an awareness of sustainability, transparency, and collaboration, but also a larger mission of ethical business practices such as safe and humane working conditions for the growers or assembly workers who source product materials, a fair and living wage for all employees, and an overall sense that the company helps improve people’s lives—both the lives of their customers and the lives of those who work for them.
Millennials, in particular, are known for having a strong sense of social ethics. According to Intuit, “Nearly half believe the government is failing when it comes to issues such as employment, resource scarcity and income inequality.” In addition, millennials have been shown to be technologically savvy, as well as highly mobile and ambitious. Because of this attraction to a flexible work schedule that allows them to work from anywhere, as well as the technological acumen needed to pull it off, millennials are uniquely positioned as valuable players in the new gig economy, as well as contract employment and freelance work.
Keep all these factors in mind, then, the next time you attend an HR meeting or find yourself presented with an opportunity to change internal policies, mission statements, or community involvement, at the corporate level. Not only will you be making a palpable, concrete change you can really get behind, but you’ll also be forging a path toward greater opportunity for all, rather than a select few: that’s the kind of change we should all be striving toward, daily.
Image credit: Flickr/Kieran Lynam
Daphne Stanford writes poetry and nonfiction and believes in the power of art, education, and community radio to change the world. Since 2012, she's been hosting “The Poetry Show!” every Sunday at 5 p.m., Mountain Time, on Radio Boise (KRBX 89.9/93.5 FM). Follow her on Twitter @TPS_on_KRBX.