Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is a management concept in which companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders. According to research from RepTrak, the true impact of CSR on reputation is in the data: 91.4 percent of respondents would buy from a company with an excellent CSR program and 84.3 percent of respondents would give companies with excellent CSR programs the benefit of the doubt in the event of a crisis. Some companies have a dedicated CSR role that falls under HR; others depend on a CEO to carry out CSR programs; and for others, CSR is at the heart of their mission.
Episode 269: What is Corporate Social Responsibility with Chris Kaiser (@ChrisKaiser)
I spoke to Chris Kaiser, Founder and CEO of sustainability startup Click A Tree. After having lived and worked on five continents, Chris moved to a National Park area in Southern Thailand in 2012, where he witnessed the dramatic effects of deforestation first hand. Then he fell in love with elephants, and Click A Tree began.
“We started with elephants in a jungle and ended up planting 100,000 trees. We started in Thailand because we had a passion for it, now we plant trees in 13 countries across the globe…we made it our mission to pay everyone fairly for what they do so we don’t have volunteers. We pay wages to the people who work planting trees to support the areas in which they live.”
We know that sustainability initiatives are good for our planet, but I asked Chris why corporate social responsibility is so important for companies. “The benefit of CSR is easy to see. There is a marketing aspect for companies to be responsible and sustainable, it’s also a huge factor for talent. Many people choose the companies they work for because they want to do something meaningful so companies with CSR programs can help attract talent.”
CSR really helps organizations align their mission to the greater good, and it’s at the heart of what Click A Tree does, so I asked Chris what he recommends for HR leaders who want to get started with CSR initiatives. “You don’t have to create a huge program, you can make small changes and steps – such as asking all employees in an office to turn off their computers for the weekend. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. People know how to turn off their computers; it really is that simple.”
“When you take the first steps, your employees will come up with ideas that align to your culture and values.” - Chris Kaiser #WorkologyPodcast #CSR #HR Click To Tweet
Small steps are key, said Chris. “When you start off too large, it can become overwhelming. We encourage companies to get in touch with us and we can help them find the valuable first step. It doesn’t have to be one person dedicated to CSR or a team of people…you can devote as much time as you are able to, as many employees who are interested in participating. It doesn’t have to cost a company a lot of time or money.”
“We find greater success when we involve employees in the development of CSR programs. It’s so cool to see how engaged employees can actually become when involved in the greater good. They’re proud to work for companies with CSR initiatives because it allows them to participate in healing our planet. It brings employees from all different areas of the company together, which creates a bonding experience and a feeling that everyone is part of something greater. All of the small things will suddenly become one big thing with employee involvement.”
“Within 10 years, sustainability will become an expectation - not a ‘nice to have.’ Companies with CSR programs have stronger employer brands.” - Chris Kaiser #WorkologyPodcast #CSR #HR Click To Tweet
Corporate social responsibility is quickly becoming a crucial part of any company’s long-term strategy – especially in the war for talent. An effective CSR initiative enriches the community and contributes to improving the company’s culture and brand, boosting employee engagement and helping retain employees who are a cultural fit. I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to speak with Chris Kaiser about his organization and experience.
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