Employees, consumers, and society are becoming increasingly aware of corporate citizenship.
A term more commonly known as corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Some companies use the terms “corporate citizenship” or “corporate social responsibility” and “philanthropy” interchangeably, but the latter is just one facet of the former.
Corporate citizenship refers to a company holding itself accountable for the social, financial and environmental impact it has on the community, and society in general.
This broad term encompasses a wide variety of actions from business operations to corporate philanthropy.
We can look at corporate citizenship in two main ways.
The first is by looking at how a company runs itself, and its commitment to building trust by doing business ethically.
The second is by looking at how a company contributes to the wider society beyond its own walls.
The importance of corporate citizenship
Corporate citizenship has the potential to be a significant competitive advantage to companies. Particularly Millennials and Generation do not think highly of corporations and their leaders.
They are disappointed in business leaders, who they perceive as being focused solely on making a profit.
They view businesses as being out of touch with their priorities and what they consider to be important.
Which is to operate in harmony with society and environment, something many companies don’t do.
Top-down corporate citizenship guidelines can hold companies to a higher standard it can hold these organisations accountable for operating ethically.
Transparency, integrity, community and empathy are hallmark values of socially-responsible companies.
Living these values helps attract top talent, enjoy higher levels of engagement and productivity and lowers turnover rates
This in itself is a pretty powerful case for the need to embed CSR into corporate strategies.
Also, when employees have volunteer opportunities via their company, they receive the satisfaction that comes from performing meaningful work.
Additionally, volunteering is an excellent way for employees to develop empathy, leadership skills, and community development skills.
Being a good corporate citizen also impacts a company’s reputation with consumers and the wider community.
We have an obligation to be responsible – just like every organisation and individual…
To be a pro-active member of society and contribute to a healthy environment upon which our economy can lean in a balanced way.
This type of corporate commitment doesn’t happen by chance.
A commitment to corporate citizenship has to be woven into the company’s core values , mission, and culture and hard-coded into a company’s code of ethics.
Regardless of a company’s size or industry, there are a variety of ways to demonstrate corporate citizenship.
Providing pro bono services to the community is a great example, as many non-profits are not able to attract the type of talent corporations can.
For example, an accounting firm could consider offering financial services or support with tax preparation to people in underserved areas of the community.
Or your company could donate its services or products to a non-profit organization.
Another example is providing internships or skills trainings to youth-at-risk or individuals with disabilities.
If you’re unsure how to get started, you could start by re-examining your company’s purpose.
There is always a need inside your community that you could link your company purpose to.
Once this community need is identified, you can start working on a plan to address the need and look for non-profits to partner with.
Employee relations are also a big part of being a good corporate citizen.
Your workforce leaders should talk with their employees, have conversations, and ask questions to find out what matters to them.
Generally speaking, any organisation should ensure they operate in harmony with the environment and society.