How much do you know about the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? Plenty of CEOs are catching on to the idea that doing good is good for business. That’s not a difficult conclusion to reach, considering the pressure heating up in the marketplace:
- Governance is influencing corporate philanthropy. The cache of charitable giving extends well beyond private donors and family foundations. The corporate sector is catching on, in a big way. Consider the fact that in 1968, 70 percent of Americans answered “yes” when asked, “Does business act responsibly?” By 2008, that percentage had dropped to 20 percent.¹ This is an era when no CEO can deny the importance of CSR, embracing operating principles that respect the people, communities and environments where business is conducted.
- Regulatory influences are pushing sustainability. It wasn’t long ago that sustainability was viewed by businesses as a “nice to have.” Now it is a must have. The Global Reporting Initiative, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability, is setting the trend, providing a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world. In fact, according new research released by the European Commission on March 14, 2013, the GRI Guidelines now rank among the most widely recognized CSR instruments among large European companies, according to new research published by the European Commission. No business’s reputation can afford to ignore the prominence of corporate sustainability on the company’s reputation.
- Consumer demands are increasing. The results of the 2006 Millennial Cause Study conducted by Cone Inc. and AMP Insights found that well over half of 20- and 30-somethings consider a company’s social commitment when deciding where to shop. In fact, 83 percent of consumers in that critical demographic will place more trust in a company if it is socially and environmentally responsible.
- The workforce wants it. A similar study found that 79 percent of Millennials surveyed want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society, and 56 percent would flat out refuse to work for an irresponsible corporation. By 2012, those percentages had jumped to 88 percent and 86, respectively.²
So who’s doing it well? When it comes to CSR, a few industries are stand outs. Take credit unions, for example. A credit union, is, by definition, community minded. After all, credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives, created and operated by their members who all share in the profits. A credit union is its own community. Which may be part of the reason credit unions “get” CSR. Sharing, doing good, investing in the community and taking care of each other are baked into a credit union’s DNA. It’s no surprise, then, that so many CSR success stories come from credit unions.
Consider Mazuma Credit Union, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Mazuma’s service mark is “We’re all about you.” Isn’t that good? Mazuma’s board of directors and executive leadership team have adopted a forward-thinking, comprehensive program to engage employees and members in three community impact areas: education, community development and the arts. Here’s Mazuma’s vision for CSR:
“Mazuma Credit Union’s commitment to local communities was founded around the understanding that social responsibility is not a matter of choice but one of necessity . . . . Through our commitment to social responsibility Mazuma leverages our passion, leadership and innovation to address the challenges affecting our communities. The program focuses on education, community investment and development and support of the arts to foster enrichment of the communities in which we do business and live.”
And the beauty of Mazuma’s CSR program is that it doesn’t stop with a vision. That vision is in action, every single day. Employees regularly volunteer in the community. The company actively solicits input from employees about their favorite causes. Grants are thoughtfully determined to support not only the CSR program’s focus areas but also areas of innovation in community building. From the symphony to Special Olympics, Mazuma’s CSR footprint is enriching hundreds of lives in the communities Mazuma serves.
The most amazing part, though, is that stories like this are all over the country. Credit unions are giving back, in a big way. The Credit Union Association of the Dakotas even established a division called CU Social Good, a website created to celebrate stories of CSR from credit unions across the United States and Canada.
How much do you know about the importance of CSR? If you want the answer, check out an industry that’s doing CSR well. Ater all, isn’t that how it works? Surround yourself with leaders, and the chances are pretty good you’ll become one yourself.
1 Yankelovich and CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll
2 “Millennial Cause Study,” Cone Inc. in collaboration with AMP Agency, 2006.
3 “Laws that Encourage the Triple Bottom Line,” Knowledge Leadership, February 18, 2011. http://www.coneinc.com/laws-that-encourage-the-triplebottom- line