Although the term “corporate social responsibility” was coined in the 1960s, it’s only recently become part of the everyday lexicon, and Millennials, at least in part, are to thank.
Millennial workers are putting their money where their mouths – and hearts – are. Sixty-three percent of them gave to charities last year, and 43 percent volunteered or were a member of a community organization, according to a study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. However, they don’t want to leave those efforts at home – 90 percent of recent graduates say they seek employers whose social responsibility priorities reflect their own, according to recent research from Price Waterhouse Coopers.
In fact, Millennials in the Deloitte survey said they think businesses can do much more to address society’s challenges in the areas of most concern: resource scarcity (68 percent), climate change (65 percent) and income equality (64 percent). However, this next generation of workers isn’t looking to traditional methods of making change; Millennials want to work for companies on the cutting edge in a variety of areas, with 78 percent saying their acceptance of a job offer was influenced by how innovative a company was.
The question then becomes: How can companies build up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, while simultaneously engaging a generation of workers who have grown up with the Internet, social networking and smartphones?
CSR has traditionally been led by a team of human resources professionals behind closed office doors – a set few decide what organization will receive volunteer hours or donation money, or which charitable initiatives employees will have the option to participate in. It’s time for a shift in the way company leaders structure their corporate responsibility programs though. Employees no longer want to accept a lack of involvement and transparency in the decision-making process of where their time and company, or individual, dollars are donated.
As the CEO of Givelocity, an online platform that is bringing philanthropy – especially in corporations – into a new phase through its approach to crowdfunding, I’m talking to a number of companies, ranging in size, that are interested in setting up giving circles that allow employees to decide together where their combined dollars are donated, increasing employee engagement in their benefit programs.
Givelocity members pledge to donate as little as $ 1 a month and create or join communities, or “neighborhoods,” built around shared causes like the environment, literacy or animals. Neighborhood members then vote on which Charity Navigator-vetted charity will receive their collective pot each month. Anyone, including a company, can submit a cause or build a neighborhood and invite others to join.
For example, one company offers its employees $ 200 per month as a perk to be used for gym memberships, wellness programs or morning coffee. Any funds not used by month-end goes into an employee charitable pool. Employees then vote monthly on which charity or charities receive the funds – it’s an interactive and transparent way to engage employees.
The key to engaging workers in CSR is emphasizing the community aspect of the process. Employees want to feel like they’re working together for the greater good and that they have a voice in the process. They bond over a shared interest in helping their passion causes, strengthening coworker relationships and improving employee morale. And when employees are engaged, the company wins, according to a recent study by Dale Carnegie Training, which said companies with engaged employees outperform their less engaged counterparts by 202 percent.
So what are we waiting for? Let the CSR revolution begin!