Is personal fulfillment more important than money? According to a Net Impact survey, a good chunk of today’s workforce seems to think so. In fact, 53 percent of the study’s participants indicated that making an impact while drawing a paycheck meant more than the value of said paycheck.
These findings dovetail with the 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study, which shows that 51 percent of top talent want to work somewhere with strong social or environmental ties. This new reality presents an incredible opportunity for startup founders. Those who can build corporate social responsibility into the very fabric of their operating procedures may be able to do well and do good.
When CSR is at the heart of a business, it represents the company’s values and culture in a publicly tangible way. And that means creating a powerful CSR mission statement that everyone on the team can get behind and that can bring team members together.
It’s the very platform that my father built his company on and that I vowed to maintain when I took over after his passing. Through the CSR initiative he implemented 30 years ago, we’ve managed to treat about 40 million burn, trauma, and accident victims with our products.
What’s more, those patients who survived those devastating events never forgot that we championed them. Some of them now work with us because they saw firsthand how much we believe in what we do.
You can imagine how much this bond has unified our team. It has elevated our spiritual values and personal vision, enabling us to take our CSR approach to a corporate level. To be honest, workers don’t want to leave. Even if they have arguments or disputes, they remain united by a joint vision of what we are trying to achieve. That’s the kind of fortitude that can serve many startups well in the long run.
Developing a CSR Strategy
Startups have a prime advantage to adopt CSR and reap benefits including team unity and positive culture. After defining their core CSR, they can further encourage its acceptance by all employees through several key actions.
1. Celebrate milestones. As you move forward, highlight all your CSR initiatives through content, recordings, or printed booklets. Having a record of your achievements buoys the spirits of your team members. We recently did a three-decade retrospective of our CSR impacts with an anniversary video. Seeing everything we’ve attained makes us eager to continue our purpose.
2. Show the impact employees make. We often tell employees about the way the company’s CSR makes a difference — try showing them instead. In China, we have an approximately 15,000-person network of hospitals assisting burn, wound, and ulcer patients.
Each hospital hangs posters illustrating our CSR impact. When team members tour the facilities, they’re reminded of the effect they’ve had and return to work with a greater sense of urgency and purpose.
3. Rely on your employees’ personal experiences. Leaning on the personal experiences of your employees is the sign of a true leader. In our case, we listen to employees who have benefited from our CSR work in some way, whether as patients or victims’ family members. Their words and advice breathe life into our service and mission, which allows us to continue learning and improving.
4. Put funds into the hands of your people. A CSR without financial backing is like a racehorse with its legs bound together: It simply cannot go far. You do not need to overspend on your CSR mission, but be prepared to add a line into your budget for related expenditures. That way, you’re never scrambling for the money to do the right thing.
5. Incorporate your CSR into all marketing items. Your philanthropic vision should be threaded through every blog post you write and every video, job description, and piece of marketing material you release. Over time, people will automatically connect your brand with your CSR mission, which can lead to increased consumer support, better funding streams, and more talented job applicants.
Entrepreneurs everywhere spend plenty of resources in search of true differentiation. Ironically, the answer lies not in being a leader who serves, but in being a servant who leads. Be the kind of founder who presents the image of a startup just as dedicated to doing good as it is selling goods.