Lighting Up Society Through Social Service

We are committed to creating economic value, but we are not indifferent to how we do it. … Progressive businesses are gaining competitive advantage by responding to societal signals. … We prosper by helping society to prosper.”
Generally, CSR (CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES) is understood to be the way firms integrate social, environmental and economic concerns into their values, culture, decision making, strategy and operations in a transparent and accountable manner, and thereby establish better practices within the firm, create wealth and improve society.Strategically speaking, business can only flourish when the communities and ecosystems in which they operate are healthy.

Ideas for an employee volunteering program and developing community
initiatives despite the best of intentions, companies don’t always achieve the corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives they set for themselves. It usually isn’t a question of money: some companies spend lavishly on CSR programs that fail to make an impact, while others score big on a shoestring budget.Nor is it a question of management buy-in or public commitment: I’ve seen CEOs enthusiastically endorse programs that were tepidly received and quickly forgotten by employees.

Why some CSR programs take off with blinding success, while others just limp along is often not obvious. But there are some steps that can be taken during planning and implementation that will increase the likelihood that CSR goals and expectations will be met. Looking for answers Back in early 2008, we began to formulate a regionwide employee volunteering program that would be rolled out before the end of the year.This was a tall order for the Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL), the company behind the DHL and Deutsche Post brands. DPDHL’s network in Asia Pacific spans 42 countries and territories, and our 60,000-plus employees are divided between our business units DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Global Mail and DHL Supply Chain. These business units operate and are managed independently in each country where they conduct business.At the time we began this exercise, each business unit in the region conducted its own CSR activities autonomously. Activities varied from unit to unit and sometimes from country to country.

Our new employee volunteering initiative was designed to change this,by creating a framework for employees to come together and participate in meaningful activities that benefited the local communities across the whole region.Benefits for engagement were evident with volunteer numbers increasing year-on-year.To ensure the success of our new initiative, we decided we would start the planning process with two basic questions: Firstly, what exactly did we want our employee volunteering program to accomplis externally? Secondly, what did we hope for the program to accomplish internally? The answers to these two questions would substantially determine the shape and direction of our activities.

After consulting with our colleagues around the region, we decided that rather then trying to achieve some relatively grand one-off national or local milestone, like building a hospital wing or endowing a professorship at a university, we wanted to demonstrate a genuine and ongoing concern for each of the many local communities where our offices and facilities are located. Through the employee volunteering program, we also wanted to give one resource we had – our time. In terms of internal impact, we wanted our community outreach activities to catalyze a lasting bond between our employees and the communities where they live and work, ultimately benefiting employee engagement levels. This would require a program that actively involved as many employees as possible.Once these strategic decisions had been made, we began to formulate the tactical details. Specifically, what kind of outreach should we conduct in each community? On the surface, this seemed to be a fairly easy decision. Because DPDHL was already committed to improving the environment by battling global warming and reducing its CO2 footprint, an environmental focus for our employee volunteering program seemed appropriate. However, because social, economic and political conditions vary so much from market to market in our region, and we wanted activities that would truly benefit the community, we decided to adopt a “grassroots” approach and give our employees in each country the freedom to decide for themselves what activities they would conduct.

This article was originally published in Strategic Communication Management