by Georgie Sweeting
Corporate Social Responsibility or Corporate Community Investment is not a new term. Whatever you call it, it’s been bandied about in boardrooms for a number of years now and without generalising too much, it’s something a lot of companies do but don’t do well.
Recent articles in the wake of Hayne Royal Commission into financial services have revealed that the big four have ramped up their “community investment’’ efforts significantly this year in a mad scramble to rectify the tattered corporate reputations the commission left in its wake.
NAB, arguably the institution left most battered and bruised, upped their contribution by a whopping $12 million for the year, ANZ was up $6m and Westpac $1.3m in a sort of public flagellation to repent for their collective sins.
Although generally welcomed by philanthropy specialists the degree of cynicism around its remarkable timing has been justifiably significant.
Undoubtedly the money will be put to good use and benefit many different communities, regardless of whether the intentions were sincere or far more Machiavellian in nature.
But it raises some important issues around authenticity and genuine alignment when deciding where to allocate your hard-earned corporate dollars.
We have many clients who come to us seeking guidance and advice on entering into these sorts of pro bono partnerships and our advice tends to follow a similar theme. What are you passionate about? What genuinely moves you? What causes do you actually care about and why?
Regardless of the size of your company or your bottom line, we’re strong advocates for giving back in a way that’s manageable for you.
At gtmedia, we have a number of organisations and causes we’ve supported in different ways for many years and its largely based on personal connections and an ingrained view that those who can make a difference should.
Whether that means physically getting your hands dirty or supplying the sort of strategic advice paying clients recognise you for it doesn’t matter, the end result is the same. The organisation benefits from your time and/or expertise and the broader community benefits as a result.
However it’s far from a one way street. Investing time and resources in identifying and supporting those who need a leg up also has many tangible and intangible benefits that flow on to the party doing the legging up.
Companies (and brands) with a genuine CSR focus have the opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market – no easy feet in today’s jam packed physical and virtual consumer supermarket.
Organisations can leverage their investment in causes and organisations that matter to them to engage with potential clients and customers in a whole new way which, when authentic, has the potential to grow your bottom line and your reputation at the same time.
In the same vein, it will have a positive effect on your employee engagement levels, seeing that the company they work for cares about more than just their full year earnings.
No corporate social responsibility – or whatever you might like to call it – is not going to end hunger or solve world peace. But done authentically and with good intentions it is a win-win for those on both sides of the giving tree.