Corporate Social Conscience: The Passions that Drive Business

By on February 19th, 2020

Businesses trying to do good have a few common policies and programs in place, usually called “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) or “philanthropy.” The common thread among any of these programs is that companies are learning that customers and employees alike want to see social conscience at the corporate level, from the products and services they sell to the work environments they build.

The Value of Corporate Conscience

There’s a lot of commentary and advertising that shows the value to a consumer of a company whose values align with theirs when choosing where they buy. IBM’s 2020 Purpose and Provenance Drive Bigger Profits for Consumer Goods study found that “[o]ne-third of all consumers today will stop buying their preferred products if they lose trust in the brand, and one-third of consumers have already stopped purchasing their longtime, favorite brands in 2019.”

But the impact of a company’s social responsibility efforts is notably reaching employee recruitment and retention as well. By 2025, it’s estimated that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, and it matters immensely to them that they work for companies that demonstrate a commitment to positively impacting the world. And they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is.

According to a 2016 Cone Communications study:

  • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.
  • 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work.
  • 64% of millennials won’t take a job if a potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate responsibility practices.

And the importance of a concerted effort toward responsibility is only growing by the generation. A 2017 Cone Communications study found that “94% of Gen Z believes companies ought to address social and environmental issues.” This belief is a direct result of the connection this generation feels with the purchasing choices they make as an extension of their identities. “Companies should be attuned to three implications for this generation: consumption as access rather than possession, consumption as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of ethical concern.”

The impact of our everyday decisions on the planet and society is a growing concern for the younger generations, and businesses are wise to consider how they can meet the expectations influenced by this concern.

HNM’s Passion to Empower Job Seekers

As a leading resource for employers and candidates in the information and communications technology (ICT) and emerging technology (ET) fields, HNM Systems is bringing its expertise and passion to the community. 

For 2020, HNM Systems has set a charitable goal to partner with 25 members of local communities struggling with job placement. This program will partner candidates by supporting them with resume writing, career counseling, and job-seeking assistance.

These are critical elements to helping community members find sustainable employment that helps them build their lives. “98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the top 2% of candidates make it to the interview,” says Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts. 

In the age of the “Apply Now” button and job boards, according to Workopolis, “Sending out more applications doesn’t increase your chances of getting hired. Sending out better applications does.” 

A candidate’s ability to rise to the top of the pile is critical in today’s age of online job applications and resume submissions. Ere media reports that, on average, corporate job openings receive 250 applications, the first one being received within the first 200 minutes of posting.

As experts in the industry, HNM Systems is proud to extend its support to the community by partnering with clients to help members of the community prepare for and land the job of their dreams. Clients signing their first job order can select an individual to receive services like resume and/or career counseling sessions and gift cards to apply toward the purchase of interview attire. 

A Call to Action for Businesses

It can be tricky for businesses to find that balance between the impact on retail price or employee salaries and following through on a belief system, not to mention how to talk about these efforts to be socially and environmentally responsible without making them seem performative.

“In the age of the internet, where news can be spun, published and shared so easily, we have all finely-tuned our BS meters and are craving authenticity,” according to WeSpire.

The growing expectation on businesses to put their beliefs into action is in line with the social responsibility trends Forbes is predicting for 2020: “Increasingly, employees are exercising their voices demanding that their corporate leaders get involved with their communities and causes in ways unheard of just a few years ago.” 

The core difference between efforts to have a CSR program is the direction in which the benefits are aimed:

  • “Substantive CSR: Initiatives that are purely driven by a desire to help its target, such as a non-profit benefiting from a volunteer event. These programs are seen as authentic and genuine.
  • Symbolic CSR: Initiatives that are driven with a goal of benefitting the organization, and are therefore self-serving. Employees have a negative view of these programs and believe they have been developed just to make the company look good. These programs are often categorized as Greenwashing.”

Whether the aim is to donate a portion of earning or establish programs that support a cause (or both), each has its risks when carried out ineffectively. “CSR can be a risky undertaking. Approach the wrong cause, and you risk alienating customers and even employees. Devote too many of your resources, and you risk missing your financial goals,” says Robert Cresanti of the Harvard Business Review.

Passions Aligned with Business Purpose

A key way to achieve the kind of authenticity that wins with employees and customers is to find causes to support that are aligned with the business by nature and to be thorough and thoughtful in the execution of programs addressing them.

But both these characteristics are directly tied to a policy of transparency as well. A recent study by Accenture found that “62% of [respondents] want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices.”

Allowing employees and consumers this level of visibility into the intent behind CSR programs helps them identify with the business, adding even more value by entwining the brand and culture story they’re already writing elsewhere.

To learn more about this program, contact ehowe@hnmsystems.com.

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