Common Impact Blog

The CSR Scoop - 7/14/2015

By Molly Weinstein | Jul 14, 2015

In the easy, breezy spirit of summer, we’re keeping the Scoop light this week with the top recently released articles, blogs, interviews, and events that we think are worth sharing. As always, enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and expertise in our comment section below!

The Scoop:


A big thanks to Realized Worth for rounding up their picks for the best CSR and corporate volunteering conferences for the fall and summer of 2015! From Shanghai, to Zurich, to our very own Boston, everyone’s abuzz about corporate volunteering, responsible business, and cross-sector impact. Join Common Impact at some of these upcoming conference for what are sure to be engaging, innovative, and fruitful conversations!

Estée Lauder is a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, having contributed funds (to the tune of $350 million), employee skills, and a powerful soapbox to chart a path towards effective and equitable HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President of Global Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship joined Devin Thorpe of Forbes last week to discuss how Estée Lauder is able to make both a difference and a profit through their strategic philanthropic initiatives.

 “We find that [our CSR work] both attracts new customers and allows us to keep really talented employees. What we’re seeing in every single age group is that this really matters to employees…That’s where we see a competitive advantage.”

On June 10th, a notable group of corporate responsibility professionals gathered in NYC at the eighth Forum on Corporate Responsibility to look at how current trends in corporate responsibility are transforming business and, ultimately, impacting society and the environment. Three trends that attendees identified as game changers for today’s CSR included evolving consumer expectations, the business benefits of embedding CSR into corporate strategy, and a rising awareness about the environmental and social risks of irresponsible business practices.

We hear a lot of chatter about these disruptive Millennials. They’re lazy; they’re entitled; they’re glued to their screens. They’re passionate; they’re generous; they’re idealistic to a fault. Achieve Consulting has looked into the numbers to see if these generalizations hold water. One key takeaway from their research is that Millennials truly are committed to giving and volunteering – and in a more hands-on, collective way than previous generations. Achieve’s empirical insights can help workplaces to shape their culture in a way that caters to Millennial’s inherent “do-gooder” tendencies and harnesses their passions, skills, and generational preferences to further business and societal objectives.

Rachel Hutchisson had us humming “What a Wonderful World” after we read her article, “Help Good Take Over.” Hutchisson enthusiastically claims that the zeitgeist has shifted; today the previously apathetic Generation X works alongside Boomers and Millennials, united in a desire to make a positive imprint on the world.

And, according to Hutchisson, good has permeated not just every generation, but also every sector. It’s in nonprofits, social enterprises, academic institutions, government, and – last but not least – “it’s in businesses, both big and small, seeking to engage with and enhance the communities they serve and where their people live and work.” We applaud Hutchisson’s optimism, yet caution against doling out the self-congratulations too readily. Today’s models of change are inspiring and promising, but we can’t get too comfortable – we must keep innovating, collaborating, and reflecting to drive social change.

There’s no one-size-fits-all template for building Corporate Social Responsibility policies. Rather, CSR practices must be uniquely tailored to the purpose, operations, strategy, and culture of each individual organization. Still, Corporate Citizenship shared some general first steps that you can take to build a policy that’s right for your organization. Below, we’ve added just a few of our own top-of-mind suggestions to their list. What tips do you have to contribute?

  • How will your corporate responsibility initiatives tie back to your business’ bottom line? Carefully consider what you are looking to get out of your CSR policy. This isn’t selfish – a shared value model is vital to the sustainability and success of your program. What are your employee engagement, talent development, training, and customer acquisition goals? How can you structure this program to best serve those goals, while also serving the community in a meaningful, measurable way?
  • Is there a way that you can coordinate all of your efforts to complement one another? We encourage aligning your monetary giving with your more hands-on volunteer engagements, so that you can forge strong, multifaceted relationships with community partners and measurably move the needle for one organization or issue area.
  • How can you shake things up? Whether you’re in the design or implementation phase, don’t get too complacent with your modus operandi; constantly try to reflect, reform, and innovate. Involve your employees in a bottom-up approach to CSR policy planning in order to truly understand their passions, interests, and preferred models of engagement. Brainstorm creative ways to drive employee engagement, such as friendly competitions, volunteering time off, and internal recognition practices. Test out different models of engagement: strategic philanthropy, skills-based days of service, employee nonprofit sabbaticals. Start a direct dialogue with your community about what they think tomorrow’s challenges will bring and how they see you as being most useful in fighting them.
  • How will you tell the story of your CR efforts? Think about the narrative you’d like to construct about your community involvement. How can you authentically and plainly convey your motives, impact, and methods to internal company leaders, employees, community partners, customers, shareholders, and stakeholders. Intentional consideration of this up front will be key to generating and maintaining internal and external support for your work. Along this vein, contemplate how you might leverage your experience to support other firms in furthering their CR efforts. Social impact is no zero sum game; consider how your successes, failures, tactics, and innovations might be edifying for your peers in the business and CSR communities!



We were excited to learn that Harvard Business School will host a program on Corporate Social Responsibility this fall to help executives refocus corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts in ways that benefit society and the business.  The program curriculum will focus on three core areas: designing strategy, driving social responsibility throughout the organization and managing risk and decision making. 
October 18-21, Cambridge, MA

Calling all Boston-based nonprofit workers and technologists! Want to celebrate Salesforce as you sip a screwdriver? Muse about MailChimp over martinis? Harangue HTML and hunker down with a Heinekens? Network whilst you nurse a Negroni? Join 501 Tech Club Boston and NetSquared for a Nonprofit Technology Networking Happy Hour later this month, where you can do all of the above and more with likeminded Boston professionals!
July 29, Boston, MA