Guest Post: My Diplomatic Debut within International Communities
We welcome Cheryl Green Rosario, the CSR Director at Wyndham Worldwide, to share her experience traveling throughout China, educating numerous groups on the importance of corporate social responsibility, and impacting communities through volunteerism.
I recently visited 5 cities throughout China – Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen speaking to audiences from US and Chinese companies, tech start-ups, the American Chamber of Commerce, US Embassy, NGOs, volunteer forums, MBA students, as well as the general public.
This opportunity was a part of the US Department of State Speakers Program, which supports US Embassies worldwide through recruitment of American experts in specific fields.
When the opportunity came knocking, I was excited to share my knowledge of a field I’ve worked in for so many years and to drive home the importance a CSR program can make in impacting communities, especially in a location that is just starting to tap into this arena.
Making the Case
Throughout my trip, I focused on helping audiences really understand the importance of having a strong CSR program. From more engaged employees, the desire to deliver on the UN’s sustainable development goals, strengthening the public’s trust and customers wanting to feel more connected and empowered, data shows a strong CSR program can deliver significant economic and social benefits which result in a stronger brand.
As I interacted with executives, volunteers, graduate students and employees from various companies, I emphasized the importance of telling a story with your program. Creating a story that uplifts communities while also supporting key areas of the business can be extremely impactful. It is important to engage strong partners, find opportunities for collaborations, engage internal and external stakeholders and make sure your story is one that you can build upon.
I’m proud to work for Wyndham Worldwide, a company that has a very compelling story. As a global hospitality company, Wyndham improves the world by leveraging its core mission – making people feel welcome. Wyndham has created a culture of strong values and we have provided our signature Count on Me! Service and a spirit of giving throughout our businesses as well as our CSR programs for many years. Whether engaging our employees through online giving or volunteer opportunities, we’re grateful to YourCause for being a key partner in bringing these opportunities to our team members. By empowering our people to be positive agents of change throughout the hospitality industry, we have been able to tell a great story.
Cheryl Green Rosario and members of the Guangzhou Volunteer College after a Volunteer Forum.
Sharing the Impact
For many of the Chinese-based companies, an overall CSR program was a new concept. There were also many discussions on how a company could do good while also impacting the bottom line, and if you did so, the perception from the public could be negative. Much of my presentations shared how it is possible to do both and if you ensure there are authenticity and sincerity, actually telling a story that is core to your mission, it becomes organic and natural and can result in a positive public perception.
Notably, I noticed that volunteerism, rather than giving campaigns, seem to resonate more with audiences. There are companies who have participated in impactful annual volunteer days, mentoring programs, clothing and food drives, working in the disability community or in a school. In most cases, these roles were an add-on to an employee’s existing position or a volunteer role rather than a department focused on CSR or employee engagement.
While the idea of an overall CSR program may be relatively innovative in China, I was quite impressed to learn that many of the American-based companies in China are doing some very special work in the CSR space. Companies like Intel and their focus on improving their impact on the environment and Coca-Cola who is providing clean water to rural areas of China. In fact, I spoke on a panel with a CSR leader from Coca-Cola sharing results of Wyndham’s collaboration with Coca-Cola and The One Foundation to provide water filtration systems ensuring access to clean water to children and families in some of the most remote areas of China.
Throughout my travels, I was impressed by a common thread found in many audiences: the desire to learn, the curiosity of how they can do more and the overwhelming appreciation and thirst for knowledge about how to embrace a concept like CSR.
Cheryl Green Rosario takes a selfie with a Graduate Student after a presentation.
Let’s Sum it Up
I truly believe that if you create the right culture, stay true to your core values, ensure your employees understand your values and create opportunities for different voices to be heard, your brand and reputation will organically improve. It’s important to be authentic and remember to tell your story through your CSR programs.
The privilege to have shared this message with so many wonderful people I met in China was a highlight of my career in this field. I can’t wait to see how the companies, volunteer associations, grad students and citizens of China will advance this knowledge to impact their communities and overall society!
To learn more about Wyndham Worldwide’s CSR programs, visit their website.