CSR Influence

CSR in the age of wokeness: what’s good for the world is essential for business

Bart

by Bart Lacroix

Millennials are important.

No surprise there, right? The millennial generation, after all, is the largest generation ever, and “will control $24 trillion of wealth by 2020,” according to “Fast Company.”

However big those numbers, attracting and retaining millennial talent is a challenging task for corporates. That’s because the new workforce is no longer motivated by traditional incentives. A large company or brand, a high salary, and a nice car don’t have as strong an appeal to a generation that wants, above all, to make a positive impact. So, to effectively gain traction — and maintain a foothold — organizations are realizing that they must appeal to what matters to the demographic.

“Those brands that stand in accordance with young people’s values will be more likely to ‘win the future’ than those that do not fully understand them or ignore them out of risk aversion or ambivalence,” the same “Fast Company” piece states.

Who cares?

But what are those values? Studies show that, overall, millennials tend to display more concern for social issues — the environment, poverty, women’s rights, racial equality. Millennials are passionate and ambitious about changing the world for the better, more so than any generation before them. They care about society — and they demand that the companies they support and work for strive for positive change, as well.

“Paychecks aren’t enough,” states Forbes. “Today’s employees want purpose.”

The growing importance of CSR

Companies must show millennial customers and employees that their organization makes a positive contribution to society.

This growing demand from employees and customers is why CSR has enjoyed more and more time in the spotlight in past years. Starting out as a (bluntly stated) “green-washing” initiative, CSR is slowly but steadily gaining attention from the board. This is good news! We speak with a lot of CSR managers — all highly motivated, but sometimes frustrated with their lack of influence (and therefore impact) on business. We are now seeing changes, and are confident that the growing demand for purpose is these managers’ pathway to board level. We’ve learned that the more companies focus on purpose, the bigger the role of CSR. At GoodUp, we define four maturity stages of purpose:

  • 1.0: Corporate giving: donating money to charities.
  • 2.0: Corporate volunteering. donating time and knowledge to (relevant) societal projects.
  • 3.0: Purpose employee engagement: employees contribute to corporate purpose by sharing their strengths (core business and external projects)
  • 4.0: Purpose-into-action: engage customers, communities, and (supply chain) partners to translate purpose into action.

Purpose is power

Purpose-led, value-driven (4.0) companies obviously place the most value on CSR. Are you currently working in a 4.0 environment? Then you are probably already reaping its benefits.

A Deloitte study confirms the importance of purpose — and shows its fusion with performance. Companies with a strong sense of purpose perform better financially, have more satisfied employees, and hire more top-tier talent than companies without. A sense of purpose also confronts and overturns an attitude that is somewhat prevalent among millennials: that businesses only care about profit, that society and the world are a distant second place. By homing in on and aligning your business with your purpose — and, most importantly, doing the good deeds that you want to do — you will set your business, yourself, and your employees up for long-term success.

Make a move

We now know that brands and organizations must have purpose to keep millennial customers and employees happy. It’s time to actively take steps to make an abstract concept a reality.

Want some assistance? We’re happy to help. GoodUp offers a platform on which employees and employers can seamlessly and intuitively communicate and combine their respective senses of purpose, building something that lasts, matters, and helps. Give us a call!