Corporate Social Responsibility: A Win-Win for Your Business and the Community

Vienna, VA—At Halfaker, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not just an idea—it is the foundation of the company’s culture and is engrained in all Halfaker does. On July 17th, Halfaker CEO, Dawn Halfaker, joined Deloitte and the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce for a panel discussion with other small and mid-size companies on how they leverage CSR to strengthen their business. During the panel titled, “CSR on a Shoe String Budget,” Dawn and the group of CEOs and senior level executives: Charles Kuhn, Founder, President & CEO, JK Moving Services; Carole Scott, Vice President, Corporate Communications & Administration, Agilex; and Doug Beck, Senior Vice President & Director of Corporate Development, ICF International discussed how they put their strategic CSR programs together, why they did it, and the returns they're seeing. As small and mid-sized businesses with CSR programs actively engaging their communities, their programs are evidence that you don’t need to be a global company to make a big impact.

Dawn and the group of CEOs and senior level executives on the “CSR on a Shoe String Budget” panel agreed that having a well-established plan is essential to a successful CSR program. Some key steps to consider when drafting your company’s CSR plan are:

  • Getting feedback from your employees: Soliciting feedback from employees on what areas they are passionate about supporting is a great way to generate interest among employees. Doug Beck discussed how ICF also involves their employees in deciding which organizations to support, “ICF chose to focus on diversity and tap enthusiasm for known areas by having a charity election in which all employees could nominate and vote. This allowed our team to choose and focus on three nationally.”
  • Developing the framework: It is important to have the organization drive the strategy behind the CSR program. During the panel discussion, Dawn noted, “Each year we publish a company strategic plan that is distributed to each employee, and a very important part of that plan is our CSR program. It highlights the purpose behind the program and what areas the company will focus on impacting each year. This helps us to ensure we have a purpose behind what organizations or causes we support that is tied to the overall company and our culture.”
  • Including an overview of your CSR program in your onboarding process: Having geographically diverse work locations is just one of the many challenges Halfaker and other companies face in maintaining a CSR program. To overcome this obstacle and reinforce the importance of the company’s CSR program, Halfaker recommends indoctrinating new employees by including an overview of the program during the new employee onboarding process and then reemphasizing the importance of the program by broadcasting upcoming events through weekly newsletters that are distributed to all employees and through social media platforms. Halfaker has found that this process helps get employees involved and unites the team despite being separated geographically.
  • Encouraging your employees to get involved by offering resources and support from the company and having the company’s leadership actively participate: The success of their program relies on the interest and dedication of an organization’s team of employees. Dawn noted, “It cannot just be the corporate leadership driving the CSR program, we encourage our entire team to be proactive and pursue CSR opportunities they are passionate about. It is a great opportunity to help the community and for our employees to build leadership skills and try out new roles.”
  • Communicating your organization’s CSR activities: Maintaining an effective CSR program not only unites and uplifts your team of employees, it can also set a company apart in terms of building a customer base and attracting employees—both clients and employees are often attracted to wanting to be part of something greater than a contract or job. Charles Kuhn and Doug Beck agreed, “CSR truly helps with recruitment, especially with those under 30.” Halfaker recommended that companies publically share their company culture, charitable activities and other good news stories through media outlets such as a company webpage news blog or social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to attract employees who are a good cultural fit for your company and are dedicated to making a difference.
  • Making it work with limited resources: It undoubtedly takes dedicated time and resources to develop a CSR program that can make an impact, two things that always seem to be lacking when running a small business. However, if a company strategically dedicates time and resources to schedule events and harness their employees’ passions as the engine behind the program, your leadership’s wholehearted participation and support can guide a successful program without dedicating a vast amount of resources. Halfaker’s success in community engagement is evidence that with a strategic plan driven by the passions of your employees, you can make a big impact with limited resources.

You don’t need a huge amount of resources to make a CSR program a success and it is the right thing to do for many reasons—a great way to recruit great talent, retain quality employees, unite a team of employees, and most of all, give back to your community.

To learn more about the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, please visit: http://www.fairfaxchamber.org/

To learn more about the CSR on a Shoe String Budget discussion, please visit: http://bit.ly/Qga70k