Businesses of all sizes and sectors are now adopting socially responsible policies for good reasons. As the world evolves and consumers become more socially conscious, we understand better how interconnected everything is — and Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is how businesses keep that connection tight and close with their market.
CSR is an investment for businesses, yes, for it requires financial and manpower resources, as well as time and effort. But studies show that companies implementing CSR gain higher trust from customers and partners. It’s also proven to help create a more proactive and positive work environment and happier employees.
CSR can be in many forms, but they all lean toward a common goal: To make the world better. To help any enterprise — big or small — jumpstart CSR initiatives, here are three steps to ensure a real positive impact.
1. Strengthen company culture
The very first step in creating a successful CSR program is to engrave its essence into the company culture. Every member of the company must know why such initiatives are important, and why they should be involved in them. In short, CSR initiatives should be rooted within the organization.
For BuildVietInfo, a professional facilitator of business negotiations and networks for consultation for domestic and foreign enterprises, putting CSR at the heart of business operation drives productivity and increases satisfaction among employees.
“After COVID-19, several companies are adjusting the direction and priorities of CSR activities, specifically focusing on employees' wellbeing and mental health. There has been an increase in activities being conducted that promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle, both physically and mentally,” says Mr. Tran Nam Binh, Chairman of BuildVietInfo.
With a portfolio of prominent clientele such as Vietnam Power Transmission, Ford, Edelman, and Omega JSC, BuildVietInfo has helped strengthen the capacities of organizations through strategic programs that empower employees.
Ms. Lam Ngoc Thao, CEO of LIN Community Development Support Center, shares the same belief. “Strengthening company policy is the most important factor for any business committed to CSR because it means they are determined to act on it. Through policy improvement, their CSR programs will be more strategic, longer lasting, and more effective.”
As one of Vietnam’s most notable organizations fostering cross-sector partnerships for community philanthropy, LIN serves as a vehicle through which philanthropists can effectively initiate CSRs for the right beneficiaries.
But organizations don’t need to start with big projects to raise employee morale. Simple and easily achievable programs like increasing paid leave or organizing annual wellness checkups can go a very long way. Making employees feel seen, heard, and valued can make a huge difference.
2. Simplify CSR activities
When employees are empowered, they become more active in participating in activities and programs that benefit the community.
A simple way to both encourage employees to participate in CSR activities and help companies maintain CSR as a long-term strategy is to organize time-efficient activities that are not labor intensive.
For companies that are in the early stages of implementing a CSR campaign, simple ideas can not only motivate but also strengthen the bond among employees. Donations of money, used clothes, food or household items are activities that most employees can easily participate in.
For example, last year, AIA Vietnam rolled out a 21-day challenge for their employees to complete 20,000 steps a day called "Walk to Run", which is both easy to carry out and motivates employees to stay active. For every 10,000 steps, AIA Vietnam pledged to donate 20,000 VND to Vietnam’s COVID-19 vaccine fund.
Furthermore, soon-to-rise commercial edifice OfficeHaus also supported activities such as “Red Sunday Blood Donation” and “GBA Badminton Tournament” in Tan Phu, where it’s set to open doors in the fourth quarter of 2022.
“It is no coincidence that OfficeHaus decided to carry out volunteer activities in the Celadon City residential area. By building and strengthening the connections with the local area, OfficeHaus believes that not only the community in Celadon City but also our business can benefit from it,” says Mr. Oliver Brazier, Director at OfficeHaus.
Considered one of the most exciting office for lease developements in Saigon this year, OfficeHaus prides itself in creating an environment that answers to the growing demands of Vietnam’s new generation of workforce, including the need for a work-life balance.
As companies like AIA and OfficeHaus lay creative plans for CSR initiatives for their employees and their communities, the challenge of justifying whether or not these activities make a real impact on their intended beneficiaries arises.
Ms. Thao gives a piece of advice: It all depends on the strategy, vision, and how each company executes them. Although, setting out activities that make a big impact but are difficult to execute is not a good strategy either.”
3. Build an environment-friendly office
With the world feeling the impact of climate change and Vietnam being one of the most vulnerable to natural calamities, many CSR initiatives in recent years are pointed toward solving problems related to the environment.
“In fact, CSR activities have developed to become more innovative. They are not merely about volunteering activities targeting small and independent groups, but starting to work towards solving social, economic, and environmental problems more strategically,” says Mr. Nam Binh.
Once an enterprise is with the people and nature, Mr. Nam Binh adds, “The business has a higher chance of developing sustainably.”
Building an office — the physical building and the community within it — that’s centered on sustainability and environmental preservation is an important foundational value for any enterprise.
There are several ways for businesses to grow into being more sustainable, benefiting not only the employees and the organization but also the planet. Encouraging employees to save energy by turning off the computers and lights when not in use can be easily executed and tracked.
For long-term gains, choosing a workspace that meets a set of global sustainability criteria is a strategic way to champion sustainability. Green buildings like OfficeHaus, which holds a Gold certificate in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), promise well-designed architecture that improves wellness among employees, and importantly, the environment it sits in.