Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the modern workplace is a hot topic these days – one you’ll often hear mentioned in management meetings. But what does it really mean?
It all comes down to your business contributing to the good of society, taking responsibility for your decisions and actions and how they impact society as a whole.
CSR covers a wide range of topics – such as data protection, gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities, health and wellness of your employees, climate change and sustainability.
In today’s world of social media and instant access to information, you can find out what people think of your company at the click of a button. Poor performance is being called out for everyone to see which can have a devastating impact on reputation and ultimately the bottom line.
“Organisations have had to be better and go above and beyond to be socially responsible, diverse, fair and trustworthy” explains Stephen Monk of Engage Squared.
Social responsibility challenges
In 2019, most companies are working towards improving their responsibilities but there is still a long way to go.
In sectors like IT, diversity and gender equality are still challenges to be addressed. Companies still need to encourage and promote people from different backgrounds to be able to succeed. The gender diversity is still heavily skewed towards males, although we are starting to see real positive changes. “This is something we are actively tracking and at present within our organisation we have a 34:66 ratio of men to women” says Georgie Yeandle, HR Manager a Engage Squared.
Privacy is a huge concern for organisations. The recent My Health Record implementation highlighted the issues around who we trust with our data and how it is dealt with. This includes data security principles like:
- Where does the data live?
- How is it shared?
- What measures are taken to keep it safe?
- How is it disposed of?
The pervasive nature of social media is also a big factor for companies. Disgruntled employees or customers can have a big impact by posting their complaints on social media. One bad mention on a social channel can cost your business.
Benefits of change
The benefits of corporate social responsibility in the modern workplace are often reciprocal. While they help the community, staff or clients, at the same time, the changes help the company. With such a broad topic and so much organisations can do to be socially responsible it’s imperative that businesses first define their values, then align them with CSR strategies that everyone in their business can get behind and live by.
Companies should be striving to deliver benefits to the community, whether it is locally, nationally or globally. In the modern workplace, waste management is seen as the bare minimum every organisation and individual should be handling effectively, but with so many initiatives out there, organisations should be striving to do more.
Alliance member Adopt and Embrace are B Corp Certified, which means they are part of a large network of purpose led businesses that have B Corp at their core “we want to help build an eco-system of B Corp companies and suppliers in our region that work together and have a common purpose” says Athanasia, Price leader of its B Corp Initiatives at Adopt & Embrace.
There’s no denying that developing social responsibility enhances business reputation. It also increases trust with clients which in turn leads to greater customer loyalty. It may also lead to brand differentiation and assist in standing out in saturated markets. “A lot of procurement processes these days require information about the organisations impact on the environment, and other sustainability issues. B Corp certification has bolstered our credentials to the point where we are able to easily include information about our environmental and social performance, transparency and accountability; some of which goes beyond the selection criteria and pleasantly surprises our clients.” explains Athanasia
How is technology helping this journey?
The Modern Workplace Alliance believes that technology can assist in an organisations CSR journey. If implemented and adopted effectively, technology allows a business to create modern, inclusive workplaces whereby initiatives, ideas and passions can be openly discussed and actions taken for the betterment of their organisation and community.
Collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, and smart meeting room technology such as Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2 break down physical barriers. They aid remote working and flexible hours. This promotes a more diverse workforce, as well as aiding the physical and mental health of employees.
How are MWA implementing social responsibility?
As an alliance of five companies, MWA are doing all we can to implement social responsibility and diversity in our own companies while helping other organisations do the same.
We have a strong focus on gender diversity and equal opportunities – our recruitment process is based on hiring the “right fit for the role”. We look to attract diverse recruits by looking outside our immediate networks, seeking to hire people from diverse backgrounds, heritage and skill sets.
As well as the B Corp certification, we have a partnership with Coder Academy whose mission is ‘to reduce inequality and drive innovation via high-quality technology training’. This allows us to tap into recruits from different backgrounds and experiences.
At MWA, we understand who we are as a company and how we want to give back. We support charities and initiatives such as Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea, the Mater charity and Movember. Our best results are achieved when everyone can be involved.
As well as supporting the community, we support the health of our own employees with regular social events to encourage a sense of belonging. We put ideas into practice like encouraging cycling to work and making fresh fruit available in each office.
We also encourage open communication between employees and employers with any issues or ideas. We try to grow and evolve as a company and not be stuck in our ways.
As an alliance, we help customers to do the right thing by analysing how they work and how they can be more effective. We identify issues with their workforce or workflow and help them solve the problems with technology.
How can my organisation be more socially responsible and diverse?
Organisations need to be thinking internally and externally, to be aware and be responsible.
- Create an enjoyable and supportive environment by using modern workplace technology to support flexible work hours and remote working. This leads to employees who are happy to come to work and who will create amazing things.
- Encourage employees to seek help when they need it and not suffer in silence.
- Listen to your employees – listen to their ideas and implement them.
- Always evolve and develop. You need to be open-minded and flexible as times change.
- Integrate CSR into the recruiting process to promote your company as ethical and trustworthy.
- Make CSR part of the onboarding process to educate new starters on how they can be part of the socially responsive initiatives and culture of your workplace.
- Support at least one charity which aligns with your values.
- Help customers do the right thing in meeting their own corporate social responsibility.
What systems can be put in place to support CSR?
Once your company works out how you’ll increase your corporate social responsibility, the right systems need to be put in place to support the targets.
These systems can include:
- Principles and policies such as data security and privacy
- Thorough onboarding process and exit processes
- Regular social events for employees
- Ways to allow open communication between employers and employees.
- Mental health awareness promotions
- Metrics to measure progress towards targets
We can include metrics into dashboards for corporations so they can easily keep track of where they are up to.
How can MWA help?
Technology can help increase CSR by:
- supporting flexible workplaces and open communications
- measuring and tracking performance targets
- protecting data with security and compliance
- dealing with risk
At MWA, we can implement the technology to help you achieve your CSR targets. We take the time to understand our customers, tailor a solution and make technology work for you. Our expertise and great tech skills are secondary to our focus on people.
To see how we can harness the power of technology for the betterment of your people, book in for our Modern Workplace Accelerator workshop. Our alliance of specialist partners investigates your current state and sets your strategy, giving you the chance to gain some high-level clarity.
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