Moral compass

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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

I want a career at a company that gives back to the community. Do many companies practice corporate social responsibility?

Your question is being asked by more and more students looking for community and environmental involvement in the workforce. An increasing number or corporations are developing strategies to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR), and people are taking notice. One recent study found that 69 percent of millennials would put their money toward companies that show a high level of CSR.

Companies with a good CSR can be rewarded by better business outcomes, attracting like-minded partners, and increasing employee engagement. The broad goal of contributing to the development and well-being of communities and society on which they depend has long been a part of business operations for many companies.

Profits should not be the only thing that drives a company in today’s socially aware business environment. Community development, recycling, organic products and environmental awareness are becoming an increasingly dominant factor in corporate operations, and no company wants to be seen ignoring the issue. Companies are now getting rated on a number of things such as work-life balance, sustainability, and best places to work. Shareholders are even demanding more transparency and sustainability from corporations.

Advocates are calling for a CSR index for companies, this will enable the ones lower down the list to climb and the ones at the top to benefit from their philanthropic efforts. CSR helps build trust with clients, employees and suppliers. Social responsibility can be for healthcare, education, or environmental awareness, energy efficiency and impact reduction. Projects and initiatives can get employees directly involved giving them a greater sense of munificence while fostering corporate loyalty and respect. The number of socially responsible investing funds has increased dramatically in recent years confirming this trend.

Corporations have traditionally been ranked on their annual revenue, but analysts have now developed a CSR chart to see how they stack up. Four categories comprising community, environment, employees, and governance are used to rank companies in terms of their humanitarian efforts.

Analysts found that Nationwide Financial Services ranked high for its long history of community engagement which includes partnerships with a number of charitable health and community aid organizations. New York Life Insurance also came in high on the rankings for its various employee education programs. At the bottom end of the scale were Dollar Tree Stores and Berkshire Hathaway failing on low CSR scores and employee safety violations.  

The trend towards CSR and philanthropic works is not confined to large companies. Many graduates find themselves in small- to medium-sized businesses and want to see a commensurate effort to serve the community. For example, digital companies are providing access to markets for deprived users or communities. This can be a talent showcase of design work from worldwide artists or crowd funding a project in a third world village.    

Over $15 billion per year is spent by companies on philanthropic projects and CSR initiatives. For larger conglomerates, 43% have set sustainable or renewable energy targets, 22% of which have committed to powering their entire operations with renewable energy.

As the trend continues companies may find themselves sacrificing higher revenues to maintain brand value and reputation through social responsibility endeavors.

For me, I’ve learned about what it means to focus on a culture, to build social responsibility, and the idea of a company as a super-organism… Biz Stone.