Author: Rachel Hutchisson, Vice President, Global Social Responsibility at Blackbaud 

Companies across the globe have long been dedicated to helping drive positive action through their CSR strategies. There are many examples of this important work, including generous donations and acts of service that help strengthen the communities in which we live and work. But CSR isn’t solely dedicated to people and causes outside of the organization.

Today, a company’s CSR strategy is first and foremost for its own people, aligning with its role as an employer to ensure that careers with purpose and a commitment to social responsibility are integrated parts of the equation.

Whether you are working in person, are hybrid or embracing a remote-first approach like Blackbaud, having a strong CSR commitment at the core of your strategy and operations is fundamental to a thriving culture. It keeps people connected and helps them develop a better sense of belonging.

Looking a bit deeper, CSR intersects quite naturally with employee benefits, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and broader human resources strategies. At Blackbaud, for example, CSR benefits equip employees with choice to volunteer with nonprofit organizations aligned with their values and interests, earning extra time off and the potential for grants in honor of their service. Our matching gift program follows suit, allowing corporate funding to follow employee passion instead of the other way around. These valued benefits round out more traditional offerings that invest in the health, wellness and financial security of our people. Offering your people “voice and choice” in your CSR portfolio helps them see you care about them as individuals.

In evolving their diversity, equity and inclusion programs, companies can also tap into CSR to help create strong bonds with community. Volunteerism is a fabulous way to invest in building the skills of your people and exposing them to new perspectives, helping you to understand and acknowledge everyone’s capabilities, contributions and gifts. Affinity group and employee resource group leaders can partner with CSR to create meaningful ways to engage and educate employees and make them feel welcome, all while aligning with specific employee interests. Your CSR team is a critical resource in helping you create a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.

How to begin?

Looking broadly at your People and Culture function, there are many ways to seek out and deepen collaboration. You can start by considering your CSR programs through the lens of the employee life cycle. You can also bring the teams together to talk about how the company will celebrate holidays and observances, looking for ways to tie service and giving to moments that are truly meaningful to your people and their identities. Invite your employees to serve as grant makers, sitting at the table and engaging in the hard work of how to invest in nonprofits in the community. Invite your people to help you make the good work happen.

How do you measure success?

Again, turn to your people. Make sure you have key questions in your engagement surveys that assess how your employees feel about your CSR work. Track volunteer hours across the company so you can share back the collective impact the team is making. At Blackbaud, we look at this and more. The fact that 91% of our people say it matters to them that we operate in a socially responsible way is both a point of pride and a call for us to keep doing more. And, although we love that 70% of our people volunteer and 1 in 5 serve on a nonprofit board, we keep working to encourage more action, more good. Why? Because it’s good for the world, it invests in our people, and it helps us all learn more about the very customers we serve.

The great part about all of this is that, in addition to being a fundamental way you engage your people, it also brings them together in community, builds a positive culture, and provides opportunities for everyone to have fun and be together. This work is no longer a nice to have, something that companies do when they “have the time.” Bringing high quality CSR programs to life within your company is essential, and it makes a lot of sense to do this in partnership with HR. The people working for you – and those you want to have work for you – expect it. And done right, these programs will grow your people and build deeper bonds with the brand.

This article is an excerpt from our whitepaper. Download the book to learn more and dive deeper into topics around employee wellness including financial wellness and employee belonging through a CSR lens. 


CSR Strategies for Elevating Your Employees as Your Number One Stakeholder

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