Common Impact Blog

The CSR Scoop - 5/08/2015

By Molly Weinstein | May 8, 2015

CSR is a current world view and one that needs to be embraced.” We heard message loud and clear this week in in political blogs, HR reports, generational studies, international award ceremonies, and more. Read on to learn about why businesses are clamoring to grow and evolve their corporate citizenship strategy and how CSR professionals, HR departments, philanthropists, and the nonprofit sector are involved with this shift.

The Scoop


May’s edition of the Northern California HR Magazine included a fantastic must-read feature entitled “Investing in Your Talent with Pro Bono Service.” The article explains how integrating a pro bono program with a company’s existing talent development priorities will transform pro bono from a nice-to-have community service initiative to a core strategic investment in a company’s primary asset: its talent.

In addition to providing tangible professional development benefits, pro bono service as a talent development investment also helps reinforce a company’s emphasis on purpose and social good to its future leaders at a critical point in employees’ tenure at the company.”

TriplePundit published a post illustrating how employee engagement, beyond improving recruitment, retention, morale and wellness, will also benefit business’ bottom lines by boosting creativity and enhancing customer satisfaction.

There’s a Millennial Revolution – a coup d’état led by young politically engaged jobseekers who are demanding that employers enshrine values and ethics, not just profit, in their business model. According to a survey carried out by Global Tolerance:

  • 62% of Millennials (as opposed to 42% of the general population) want to work for an organization that has a positive impact on the world
  • 50% think meaningful work that helps others is more important than a high salary
  • And 53% (as opposed to 36% of the overall population) would work harder if their company benefitted society

As Millennials step into leadership roles and the divide between work and life grows ever blurrier, work is increasingly seen as not just a job, but as an extension of ourselves. “Values don’t stop or start when you get into the office or go home, they are a part of you and what you are passionate about.” The ramifications for employers are serious: those who ignore the zeitgeist will close themselves off to two thirds of the young talent pool.

Speaking of Gen Y, Achieve, in partnership with the Case Foundation, released an update to their 2014 Millennial Impact Report. The research is rife with important findings about and recommendations for ways in which companies should adapt their CSR strategies to recruit and retain the next generation workforce. Some results that we found particularly compelling:

  • Beyond compensation and benefits, Millennials top considerations when decided whether or not to apply for a job were (in order of preference) what the company specifically does, sells or produces, the company’s work culture, the company’s involvement with causes, the company’s office environment, and the company’s diversity and HR awards. We were keen to note that a robust CSR strategy would touch upon every single one of these areas.
  • When given a choice between volunteering independently or with a group of co-workers, 78% of Millennials preferred serving with a team of fellow employees, indicating that peer influence plays a crucial role in driving Millennial and employee engagement.
  • Of the employees surveyed, 44% had volunteered skills through their employer to benefit a cause, and 94% enjoyed the experience of individualized, skills-based volunteering. 97% of Millennials prefer using their individual skills to help a cause.

If business school graduates can’t think critically about creating lasting, large-scale social change through market-oriented, inclusive business models, how can they be effective contributors to an increasingly inclusive economy?”  As the economy and business sector become more inclusive, our business education must also evolve. SSIR argued that business education should encompass a broader definition of business, including lessons on topics from market-based approaches to international development goals in developing countries.

This dialogue at this year’s Business for Peace Ceremony was all about a new, urgent corporate pragmatism that goes deeper than idealism or kind intentions, to the root of a business’ strategy.

This year, the Business for Peace Foundation recognized five global entrepreneurs for “businessworthy” work – work that “inspires a business person to identify with a win-win mindset and actions that marry profit to a higher purpose.” Read more about the honorees and the ethos behind the award here.

The Hill released a powerful piece on “Why global corporations should embrace corporate social responsibility.” Author Edda Collins Coleman frankly declares, “if you are in business today you are dead in the water if you’re not engaging with the community at large.” She argues that all companies must seek new ways to cultivate inclusiveness, develop leadership abilities, nurture career growth, and engage their employees in their strategies and objectives.

A Newsweek opinion piece explored why today’s companies are driving social change. Sharon Sloane argued that while economic gain may be a by-product, it’s no longer the reason for corporate activism. 

“Where companies historically sidestepped controversial political positions in order to avoid offending a segment of their customer base, they now see social change as an imperative to their own values…In order for businesses to retain their most valuable employees they must recognize not only individuals’ professional goals but their personal values and ambitions. Greater activism from employers generates greater commitment from employees and customers and an energy gleaned from being part of a higher purpose.”

Let’s face it – we all love rankings. How does your city rank in livability? Nightlife? Pizza? How about employee engagement?

Quantum Workplace looked at data from over 440,000 employees in 40 cities to identify which cities have America’s most engaged employees. Nashville, Tennessee, Sacramento, California and Huntsville, Alabama topped the charts.

Though these cities are clearly doing something right, Quantum found that overall engagement has dropped - for the first time since the end of the recession - to its lowest point in eight years, 66.7%. What lessons can we all learn from Nashville to hike those numbers back up?

It’s as easy as 1-2-3…4-5-6-7! Rachel Hutchisson of Business Doing Good released an easily digestible seven-step guide to establishing a skills-based volunteerism program.

  1. Develop your plan
  2. Engage your people
  3. Identify partners
  4. Do something
  5. Debrief
  6. Measure success

The immense benefits of the corporate volunteer experience have been proven time and time again. But how can companies engage those employees who, due to the nature of their work, are tied to their desks? Causecast provided some innovative solutions for engaging on-site, immobile staff in a company’s volunteer efforts. Among their top suggestions: skills-based and virtual volunteering.

We loved Emily Rothberg’s blog post, “Pulling Back the Curtain on the CSR Profession,” which offers an inside look at the world of corporate social responsibility. Rothberg candidly discusses the various factors, such as company resources, internal networks, and executive values that will dictate the day-to-day field experience of a CSR professional.

Leadership is more than just a buzzword. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 80% of executives cite the ability to develop leaders as one of the most important factors to impact an organization’s competitive advantage. ATD posted a Human Capital Blog this week about why, despite this knowledge, a leadership gap persists.

Skills-based volunteering is one of many effective ways that companies are developing core leadership skills such as empathy, relationship-building, collaboration and innovation. What have you seen companies doing to build leaders? What learning opportunities do you feel would be most effective for you? Your manager? You’re CEO?

When compiling the CSR Scoop, we see countless articles about the importance of leadership development in the business sector in driving employee engagement and fueling innovation and success. Rarely, however, does leadership development come up in our readings about the nonprofit sector and even more seldom is the subject presented as directly linked to impact. This week, Social Velocity released an interview with Linda Wood, Director of the Haas Leadership Initiative about her pioneering work in nonprofit leadership development.

We’ve likewise seen the transformative effects of nonprofit leadership development; our nonprofit clients frequently identify professional development as one of their most valuable takeaways from partnering with our corporate volunteers – often delivering even greater, long-term programmatic value than the tangible engagement deliverables.

Philanthropy has a program-bias; nonprofits frequently struggle to raise dollars to fund core capacity-building initiatives that are the backbone to their organization’s success. To help nonprofits convey to funders the potential impact of a capacity investment, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) have put together a toolkit to help funders understand the importance of and return on capacity investments.

Last week, the Nonprofit Finance Fund released their 2015 State of the Sector Survey, exposing a demand for nonprofit services that exceeds the sector’s capacity, difficulties obtaining and managing government funding, and sector-wide feelings of vulnerability and instability. The Nonprofit Quarterly remarked that twenty five years ago, these themes were the same. “Volatility is nothing new; there is no “normal”; and adaptability has always been at the core of nonprofit strategy and leadership.”

Robin Brule wrote about the power of social entrepreneurship and conscious capitalism to find solutions for the pervasive, multifaceted challenges we face today. She argues that to be successful, social entrepreneurs must become comfortable with an accelerating pace of change, recognize challenges as opportunities, commit to a fundamental shift or framework change, and embrace empathy.

Michael Allison reported on the state of the Strategic Plan. Despite some hysteric cries of the death of strategic planning, Allison claims that the strategic planning process is alive and well, and has simply evolved to become more sophisticated, nuanced, and dynamic in today’s face-paced environment.



When is business at its best? When it competes, innovates, and creates better solutions for the world’s problems. This is shared value. The 2015 Shared Value Leadership Summit will gather the world’s leading thinkers and doers of shared value to deliver the “how-to” of building a shared value strategy that truly showcases business at its best.
May 12-13, Conrad, NY

Join Common Impact at the Massachusetts Service Alliance Conference to explore ways to effectively leverage volunteers and their contributions, examine leading models in the field, and share best practices. This special day of learning, networking and inspiration will build organizations’ capacity to engage diverse volunteers from all generations in meaningful, mission-driven service.
June 1, Framingham, NY

Burt Rea, Director at Deloitte Consulting LLP is hosting a webinar on Employee Engagement and Culture. Register today to learn how to drive engagement through corporate culture, technology, leadership, and employee experience.
June 10, Online

Join SSIR for a webinar on Lean Experimentation for the Social Sector and learn how you can apply lean strategies to your work in the social sector in order to streamline innovation and enable rapid implementation of promising ideas.
June 16, Online

Whether it’s called corporate social responsibility, corporate responsibility, or sustainability, companies need formal, comprehensive and integrated approaches to corporate citizenship management that aligns with their business strategy. Join the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship for a course on the Fundamentals of Corporate Citizenship to learn how to evolve your company’s strategy, programs, communications and measurement to keep a pace with the changing business environment.
September 9-11, Boston, MA

Points of Light’s Conference on Volunteering and Service is the largest convener of volunteer, national service and civic leaders in the world. The 2015 Conference will examine how the next generation of change-makers are creating new pathways for direct action and using all of their assets – time, talent, voice and money – to build strong, vibrant communities across the world.
October 18-21, Houston, TX