We hear it from senior PR and marketing executives time and again: The most effective CSR programs are those that have solid buy-in from the rank-and file (as opposed to aligning the brand to a cause that’s close to the CEO, but no one else in the organization).
With that in mind, here are some tips to get your employees to preach the company’s CSR mission, with a hat tip to Faith Welling, VP and director of corporate responsibility for ICF International.
> Define your CSR mission. What is your CSR mission? Are your employees familiar with that mission? Write it down. Communicate it broadly and often. Introduce the CSR mission during employee orientation. Publish it on your website.
> Identify your employees’ passions and skills. What are your employees passionate about? In what activities do they excel? There are many approaches to determine your staff’s priorities and concerns. Take a survey; ask employees about the issues or causes that motivate them—such as addressing poverty, equity in education, environmental protection, etc. Publish a CSR article in your company newsletter or blog and invite employee feedback.
> Note the intersection of passion and mission. Where do employees’ passions and skills converge with your CSR mission? Perhaps there is an overlap in the areas of education or environment or health.
> Ensure senior executive commitment. Your volunteer program needs executive buy-in to ensure the best chance for success. If the C-suite supports the program and frequently discusses the volunteers’ accomplishments, they send a message that the volunteers’ work is important to the firm and to the leadership.
> Provide a framework. Organize your employees by interest. For example, you might form a group focused on sustainability and another focused on community service. Or perhaps the overwhelming interest is quite specific, such as helping elementary students in disadvantaged communities succeed in math and science. Bring together those with a common interest.
This content is an excerpt from PR News’ Corporate Social Responsibility Guidebook, Vol. 6.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1