I attended a program through NYU’s Wasserman Center today and had the opportunity to meet and network with employees and recruiters from big name companies like Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, IBM, AOL, Macy’s, Black Rock, and Barclays. Since I am looking to get into the CSR field, I asked them what their respective companies were doing in this space. I was a bit disappointed to find that most of them were unable to speak to anything significant their companies have achieved in terms of CSR. I happen to know that most of these companies are taking sustainability concerns into account to some degree, with the exception of Barclays, who will be receiving a Public Eye ”Award” this month (see http://bit.ly/zQHFDx). Therefore, this lack of awareness points to a significant problem.
There seems to be a major divide between people at a company who work in a CSR capacity and those that work on core business functions. This is a missed opportunity to capitalize on one of the primary internal benefits of CSR: employee retention and productivity. Employees want to work for responsible and forward-thinking companies and are more likely to stay at companies that have values similar to their own. Additionally, certain CSR projects like recycling programs cannot succeed without employee awareness and support. So why are so many employees being kept in the dark about CSR?
I’d venture to say this is not intentional, but simply an overlooked opportunity. To mend this divide, CSR initiatives within a company must be broadcasted to current employees through means beyond easily-neglected internal newsletters. CSR should generate excitement and buzz within and around a company, and achievements in this space should be used to attract potential employees. Furthermore, the CSR division should not be an independent entity within a company: employees should have opportunity for inter-departmental discussion and interaction regarding CSR.
PwC has some incredible employee engagement programs such as Project Belize incorporated into its CSR strategy. Employees cite these types of participatory programs as a source of pride in working for PwC. More companies could stand to benefit from engaging its employees in this way.