Flip the Conversation: Combat Departmental Silos with CSR Integration

Guest October 30, 2018 CSR Trends

Rita Garza, Director of Aveniras Consulting, is back serving as a guest blogger. She flips the conversation of Corporate Social Responsibility and shares how to combat departmental silos with CSR integration and why the rest of the departments in your company need the information you have.

Corporate America is inundated with taglines that promote teamwork. Whether One Team, Better Together, or one of the many others, chances are your company employs a teamwork slogan setting the standard to influence coworkers to be more communicative, collaborative, and innovative. But do these mantras really impact the way you work? Do they lead to the desired outcomes in your company?


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According to many change management experts, companies of all sizes continue to site departmental silos as a growing business pain. This is particularly relevant for CSR departments as you are at the center of a rapidly changing industry gaining tremendous relevance across business lines.  As you strive for integration throughout your company, it’s helpful to flip the conversation with other departments to focus on how CSR integration can enhance their work. To combat the departmental silos you encounter, here are five reasons why other departments within your company need the information you have.


Reason 1: Drive Revenue Through Enhanced Business Development

Nonprofit boards are typically filled with business and community leaders, key stakeholders, and can be a great way for your executives to get direct access to these leaders and build meaningful relationships. These relationships can result in increased visibility, an enhanced reputation, and revenue opportunities for the company if incorporated into the business development strategy, which is an often-overlooked integration opportunity.


You can build a nonprofit board placement strategy that focuses on merging business opportunities with your social impact goals by researching board of director rosters from key nonprofits in your footprint and presenting the rosters to your national or local executives. This may help your executives select a board to join that provides them with the most value while supporting the overall CSR strategy.


If your team already has employees serving on boards, you can inventory this information and present it to your department leaders, who may utilize employees as contacts to the community or business leaders who serve on that board.


Maintaining a board placement strategy requires strong data management because board service may frequently change across all participating national and local level executives. However, the business value that an authentic board placement strategy has particularly in regard to enhancing reputation and growing revenue is clear information you have that other departments want.


Reason 2: Bolster Consumer Engagement and Local Market Performance

Often, company leaders search for talking and data points to use in meetings with local market stakeholders. CSR statistics and key messages are perfect to use in these situations. Local stakeholders enjoy hearing how many philanthropic dollars and volunteerism hours your company has invested into their community, as well as which programs your company supports to further specific community initiatives, or solve social issues – the higher the impact, the better. This information shows that your company is committed to bettering the communities in which it operates and has a lasting impression.


This information can also enhance marketing campaigns, especially those focused on entering new markets or building brand awareness in existing markets. Your marketing team can use your CSR data to build messages that will resonate within specific markets and drive consumers to engage with your brand.


Reason 3: Enhance Employee Engagement and Productivity

It is proven that employee volunteers tend to be more engaged employees. Many report a company culture of volunteerism boosts morale, creates a better work environment, and offers professional development opportunities. Companies also report a clear correlation between employee engagement and employee productivity. Specifically, organizations with high levels of employee engagement report a 22% increase in productivity, according to Gallup. Human Resources and other department leaders need your volunteerism data to help identify their most engaged workers.


Consider creating a regular report of top volunteers in each department. Know where they are volunteering and how often. Share this information with department leaders on a regular basis and incorporate those leaders into your volunteer recognition program, so they can gauge engagement and productivity of their employee volunteers. These engaged, high-performing employees can be tapped as brand ambassadors, champions of internal projects and a pipeline for future leadership opportunities.


Reason 4: Product Innovation

Product innovation can also benefit from the information your CSR department manages. A growing trend is for companies to develop products that have a social purpose, for example, a product that for each unit sold, a percentage of the profit is donated to a charity or charitable cause. If your company is looking to launch these types of products, they will benefit from the guidance and data of your CSR Team. You can help determine whether proceeds from the product should go towards the company foundation and a specific social cause your company is invested in, or whether proceeds should go to a nonprofit of the customer’s choosing. No matter which you decide, your CSR data is sure to play a key role in helping to reach a decision.


Reason 5: Investor Engagement

According to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, 75 percent of investors are interested in socially responsible investments, including 84 percent of female investors and 64 percent of male investors. This data and other similar reports indicate a clear shift that companies must respond to for optimum investor engagement. CSR teams must work with other departments to make operations as sustainable as possible, sharing this impact data in your reports, and continue the journey to full integration of CSR throughout the company.


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All in all, CSR has critical information other departments need to impact brand, visibility, reputation and ultimately contribute to the company’s ability to be competitive. Whether volunteerism, market-specific philanthropy, or overall sustainability efforts, continuously look for ways to share your data with other departments because your data is critical to driving revenue, product innovation, and consumer, employee, and investor engagement.

About Rita:

Rita Garza is the Director of the Corporate Social Responsibility and Marketing Communications practice for Aveniras, a boutique investment and advisory firm.

Last year, Rita made the leap to being a consultant bringing 25 years of executive-level experience within a range of sectors, such as financial services, sports, telecommunications, utilities and healthcare to her practice. She has held top leadership positions within corporate social responsibility, marketing communications, and corporate communications departments. Rita is considered a tri-sector expert due to her ability to effectively work with diverse stakeholders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.

A frequent media spokesperson, Rita is also a requested presenter and speaker on a wide variety of issues and topics. She has served in key Board of Director positions for various nonprofit organizations across the country.

Rita received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin and as a National Urban Fellow received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with honors from the Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, City University of New York.

Connect with Rita on LinkedIn