Having spent most of my career facilitating partnerships between businesses and communities, I value corporate social responsibility initiatives that are intentional about delivering multiple returns both internally and externally. These efforts are often more sustainable, more focused on addressing the root causes of social issues, and drive greater employee engagement.
Here are three CSR hacks to drive greater changes internally and externally…
#1 – Redesign the Volunteer T-shirt
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen volunteer t-shirts that simply say “VOLUNTEER” in big, bold letters along with a corporate logo. Or shirts that declare “x” company cares. I always think to myself, “what do they care about?”
Redesign the volunteer t-shirt to focus on your company’s commitment to a cause and/or the impact that your company has made on a social issue. Use your shirts to help tell part of your CSR story. Make it locally focused or roll up your stats to share your national impact.
If you are engaged in mentoring youth, tell us how many youth you have mentored and the impact of your commitment: “120 youth mentored by xxx company across three cities with 100% graduation rate.” If you work to protect our environment, tell us how many trees you have planted, how many miles of trails you have built/restored, or how much you have recycled: “xxx company has preserved 40 miles of nature trails for xxx community.”
Consider including a short quote from someone you have helped on the frontline of a social issue to personalize your impact: “Dear xxx company…thank you for believing in me! I got the job! Love, Sammy.”
#2 – Have Senior Executives Serving on Nonprofit Boards Mentor Emerging Leaders Serving on Junior Boards
Mentoring at work helps employees develop and enhance their skills. It expands employees’ networks, perspectives and opportunities. When employees connect with colleagues outside of their teams, they deepen their knowledge of the organization and can make more informed decisions that drive greater efficiency, profits and growth.
As senior executives are placed on nonprofit boards, consider matching them with an emerging leader in the organization outside of their team to mentor and engage on their nonprofit’s junior board or a committee for young professionals. You build your pipeline of talent internally while strengthening a pipeline of community leadership externally. The senior executive and emerging leader build a mentoring relationship and learn from each other.
Your CSR board service program can do more than impact your nonprofit partners and community externally – it can strengthen your internal culture as well. Both are good for your bottom line.
#3 – Engage New Managers in Youth Mentoring Programs
Great management is great mentoring. Far too often, highly successful individual contributors are promoted to management roles with little to no training and coaching. Management webinars and workshops alone will not adequately prepare someone to be a great manager. Many will learn through on-the-job experience, celebrating some wins and failing forward from challenges along the way.
Why not match new managers with youth in mentoring programs to further refine their skills of active listening, critical thinking, relationship building, communications, and so much more. Host debrief sessions with your new managers to make connections between their youth mentoring training and experiences and their management roles in your organization. For example, when mentoring youth, building trust takes time and intentionality. The same is true when building relationships with those that you manage.
When your CSR strategy is able to change the trajectory of young people’s lives externally while strengthening your management practices internally, it is likely that your recruitment and retention will be positively impacted as well. You will attract great talent that is seeking opportunities to work with great managers, and you will retain great talent because your managers will be great mentors as well.
To identify local youth mentoring opportunities, check out the national database – Mentoring Connector – from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.