By Mark Horoszowski
The final corporate social responsibility(CSR) reports from 2017 have hit the printing presses and one thing is clear: despite notable efforts to create social good (and publicize it), consumers and employees think that companies should be doing more.
Research from McKinsey highlights that indeed, there is a growth in CSR Programs. The report also provides analysis showing that for CSR programs to be effective in creating an impact and bottom-line results, organizations must proactively create partnerships with external groups.
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Corporations are already increasingly outsourcing their core business processes, and now they are outsourcing critical aspects of their social impact projects, too.
Two weeks ago, 28 global brands - like Microsoft, PwC, and Timberland - took home Halo awards from the Engage for Good conference in Chicago. All were recognized for their leadership in developing and scaling social impact programs that created lasting change, while benefiting the business’ bottom line - but none of these companies did it alone. While the award-winning programs were vastly different, they all shared something in common: all received awards alongside external partners that were critical to delivering their for-good programs.
Microsoft’s MySkills4Afrika program is just one such example which received a Halo award for best employee engagement program through skills-based volunteering, which is modelled after and in collaboration with the MovingWorlds Experteering platform. Outsourcing is, of course, not new for Microsoft. In the same way that Microsoft is not an expert in end-user installs or device manufacturing, and hence relies on partners and outside electronic manufacturers to deliver its full value proposition, the MySkillsAfrika program relies on external support to share needed insights and best practices.
With the help of MovingWorlds, MySkills4Afrika invites Microsoft employees from all over the world to travel across Africa and volunteer their talent and deep expertise to support startups, universities, the public sector, and small-and-medium business working to build a promising future for Africans. The shared-value promise of MySkills4Afrika is fantastic: Transferring skills to the organizations that need them the most, contributing the professional development experience of a lifetime to the volunteer, and providing invaluable insights to Microsoft to learn more about some of its high-potential markets.
For corporations looking to engage in social impact programs, they can use these outsourcing lessons from the award-winning corporations featured at the Engage for Good conference:
Let’s look at another recipient of Engage for Good recognition: Timberland. Timberland’s alliance with Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) sets the gold standard for this, winning the best corporate environmental program. The Planting Seeds for Haiti's Futurecampaign smartly defined a goal that achieved a business objective for Timberland, while an impact goal for the SFA: Plant 5 million trees in 5 years, and develop a model along the way that would self-sustain the SFA, which was accomplished with a tree currency model. This aligned with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance’s mission of creating more economic opportunities for its farmers, while ensuring the long-term health and biodiversity of the land they worked, which included planting trees for environmental preservation. And here was the genius in this partnership: by aligning on creating a self-sustaining model alongside impact, the two parties remain engaged sharing insights back and forth. In doing so, SFA was able to share with Timberland the need to find purchasers of higher-margin products, like cotton, which would enable the farmers to earn higher incomes. SFA, which knew many of Timberland’s objectives, was able to build on the previous success to the Seeds campaign and collaborate with Timberland to integrate into its supply chain. In this case, not only did the success criteria enable the first Seeds projects to be higher impact, but it paved the way for future partnerships innovations, too.
These levels of integrations aren’t exactly easy, but at the Engage for Good conference workshop on “”, some best practices emerged from “: The Walt Disney Company & Girl Up’s award-winning #DreamBigPrincess Global Photography Campaignand Edward Jones & Alzheimer's AssociationInvesting in a Cure campaign.
Not only will these partnerships help create more sustainable change, but they might help your program set the new gold standard for developing the best corporate social impact programs.
Mark Horoszowski is co-founder and CEO, MovingWorlds.