Attitudes towards corporate social responsibility have evolved over recent years with more leaders recognizing giving back to their communities as an imperative aspect of their business. The management of these programs is typically in the hands of the CSR team, but to fully leverage an organization’s resources to do good, the discussions and execution need to extend to the leadership team. C-level executives play a pivotal role in any decision-making within an organization and are essential in driving and supporting employee engagement and diversity and inclusion initiatives. This unwavering support allows for true transformation to take place and have a ripple effect among employees.
Establishing CSR as a Business Strategy
In order for CSR to stay at the forefront of an organization, these initiatives need to be embedded in everyday practices and operations. Executives can set the foundation for a philanthropic culture and align CSR into the overall mission and values. The deeper ingrained these initiatives are into the core of a company, rather than segmented into one department, the more likely employees across all departments will be involved.
Communicating and Modeling Expected Behavior
Once the strategy and vision for the organization’s CSR program are in place, executives should be fully involved in the execution. If employees are only hearing about these initiatives from the CSR team, these efforts can seem too decentralized from the entirety of the organization and may not fully resonate with the entire employee base. By incorporating communications from the leadership, these executives are able to set the tone and model behaviors across the entire organization. Beyond the communications, executives need to “walk the walk” by fully embracing and demonstrating their commitment to making an impact on society. Employees are going to feel more empowered to act upon these values if the leadership team presents it in a meaningful way.
Executive Support Needed More than Ever
As CSR becomes a normative aspect in the business world, and in light of this year’s COVID-19 effects and social justice movements, executive support is needed now more than ever to support programs, and even push the envelope with their diversity & inclusion efforts in the workplace and community engagement. The CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge emphasizes the need for leadership to pave the way for societal change to happen within their organization. Over 1000 CEOs across a multitude of industries have signed this pledge to commit to addressing and advancing their D&I strategies. By listening to and understanding the voices of employees and society, these leaders are playing a meaningful role to be a part of the change and encouraging other leaders to do the same.
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