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Megan Amrich headshot

Speaking Up and Standing Ground: CSR as an Employee Recruitment and Retention Tool

By Megan Amrich

Employee engagement was on the main stage at this week's Commit!Forum. Despite vastly different industries, both MGM Resorts International and 84 Lumber share a commitment to engaging employees as a means to attract and retain top talent.

Phyllis A. James, executive VP and chief diversity & corporate responsibility officer for MGM Resorts International emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion in every aspect of the organization’s workforce, dating back to founder Kirk Kerkorian, son of Armenian immigrants.  

“To achieve true employee engagement, all employees must feel included and valued,” James said. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to share ideas and participate in dialogue on issues both internal and external.

She went on to cite studies showing that companies with diversity across all levels of employment are more productive and competitive.

84 Lumber was looking to recruit a diverse, talented pool of new employees when it aired its now-famous commercial during the 2017 Super Bowl. The commercial was produced by Brunner and Steve Radick, the firm's director of public relations, spoke about the strategy behind the spot.

The commercial followed a mother and daughter on their journey to the U.S. border. The televised portion of the story ends midway, directing viewers to continue the story online. The online portion shows the mother-daughter duo encountering a border wall - presumably between the U.S. and Mexico - and seeing a door to welcome them in.

“The ad showed the doors of 84 Lumber were open to anyone who wanted to work hard and make a living,” said Radick, noting 84 Lumber wanted to attract diverse job applicants skilled in construction and building.

Radick said one of the most amazing outcomes of the commercial was the reaction of current 84 Lumber employees, who, for the most part “rallied around the ad.” He heard numerous stories of 84 Lumber employees saying they were proud to wear their company logo-branded polo shirts in public, proud to represent a company willing to take a stand. Many employees started getting involved in other company-led CSR initiatives, as well, inspired by the public response of the commercial.

Research from Cone Communications supports what 84 Lumber and MGM Resorts have discovered: CSR can empower not only employee recruitment, but also retention. Seventy-six percent of millennials will research a potential employer’s environmental and social initiatives before deciding to work for them. Sixty-four percent won’t work for a company that doesn’t share their values. Whitney Dailey, Cone’s director of marketing, shared these numbers and more during a COMMIT!Forum panel on “Business Drivers Behind Brands Taking Stands.”

“[The impact on] recruitment and retention make the CSR investment worth it,” she said.

Image credit: Karen Sayre

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Megan is a writer and editor interested in sharing stories of positive change and resilience. She is the author of Show Up and Bring Coffee, a book highlighting how to support friends who are parents of disabled children. You can follow her at JoyfulBraveAwesome.com.

Read more stories by Megan Amrich