Corporate social responsibility — otherwise known as CSR — has many well-known “soft” benefits, from greater employee satisfaction and retention to stronger brand recognition and greater customer loyalty. Yet, CSR can also help enhance your company’s bottom line. In fact, if you have any kind of involvement with growing your business, CSR should be a key part of your growth strategy.
According to a study titled “Project ROI: Defining the Competitive and Financial Advantages of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability,” a CSR program —implemented correctly with proper design and efficient investment — can help increase company revenue by up to 20%, increase market value by up to 6%, and reduce staff turnover by up to 50%.
Yes, investing in CSR can literally help grow your business.
There are many types of CSR; increasingly, however, focus is sharpening on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. One of the initiatives gaining momentum is diversity — enhancing representation of women and people of color in corporate environments.
Examples of successful CSR/ESG programs are readily found. In Brazil, where corporations are promoting social inclusion and gender diversity, DXC Technology is providing on-the-job training for young women from low-income families.
The program involves a group of high school students. Specifically, 20 young women, ages 17 to 19, work at a corporate office 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for a full year. They get a monthly paycheck and get hands-on understanding of what a technology job entails, how to work in an office environment, and so much more. These young women finish their education at night, after their corporate work hours are complete.
From DXC, each girl receives:
- Sponsorship and mentoring, as each has a sponsor in the leadership team
- Technical training, as each trains in different areas of technology (cloud, security, etc.). These young women also receive professional training in areas such as career management, how to use LinkedIn, how to create a resume and more.
The program starts with a 2-month foundation workshop, given in a classroom environment. After those 2 months, each young woman is placed in a different tech-focused part of the company for 5 months, then switched to another tech-focused area, with the goal of providing broad exposure to different types of technologies, different departments and different groups of people.
How are the girls chosen? According to Claudia Braga, segment leader for DXC Technology in Brazil, the girls are chosen based on language skills, math testing, etc. She emphasizes that while grades are considered, they are not always the deciding factor. “We understand that while many of these girls are smart, some are simply not motivated,” she said. “We understand that, and take that into consideration.”
The results are outstanding. For the last 12-month program, 50 percent of the young women enrolled stayed in technology; for the current program, Braga is hoping for even stronger results.
“Our goal is to help these girls fill in that corporate pyramid,” Braga says. “There are so many entry-level tech slots available; these girls are ideal for those slots, and now they have a solid path upward.”
The value to the young women is clear: the opportunity for a future they never could have imagined. “This is all about changing lives,” Braga says. “These young women start to develop dreams; dreaming is what drives what happens next.”
The value to DXC is also clear: pretrained future employees, and — in some cases — future leaders. And, by creating a more diverse workforce, companies could realize another valuable benefit: a potentially stronger bottom line.
A 2018 study by management consulting firm McKinsey concluded that companies with the most ethnically and culturally diverse executive teams are 33 percent more likely to outperform others on profitability.
So, how can you implement a successful CSR program? The key is to start from within. Specifically:
- Examine your business and align your CSR efforts with your business focus.
- Get top-level buy-in, then implement an internal task force that cuts across the organizational hierarchy.
- Form outside partnerships with companies offering sustainability options or other companies looking to implement a CSR program. Either way, partnerships are a critical component to a successful strategy.
The last piece of advice is to communicate your CSR plan to the company and get as many employees involved as possible. The more CSR is a core component of your corporate culture, the greater your chances of success.
Read more about how a focused commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability can help organizations improve the environment, change lives and help shape a brighter future for the world.