Naked bike rides and the corporate responsibility revolution
When Portland, Oregon, puts on its annual World Naked Bike Ride each June, people participate by the thousands. Every year for the last five years, the event has grown by 50 percent and estimates for this year topped 10,000 participants, many first timers. Directions to newbies included – “First, an important point of etiquette: Ride your bike to the starting location. Arriving by car with bikes stowed as cargo is a big faux pas. It violates the idea of oil-free sustainability that the ride is all about.”
Really? The ride is about oil-free sustainability? It seemed like it was just about getting to ride a bike naked through the city of Portland with 10,000 other zany people.
But, that brings us to the point of this blog: the responsibility revolution is upon us and the zeal for something – better, different – is an important motivator to many people. Whether it’s fossil-fuel independence or fair trade, social responsibility concerns underscore major protests, from World Naked Bike Ride to the Occupy Movement to the Responsible Banking outcry that swept the nation this year.
The fresh face of corporate citizenship
It wasn’t all that long ago that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was confined to the realm of academia, a lofty ideal that didn’t seem very realistic, given the tenets of free market capitalism. Once given a nod with some well-placed philanthropic funds, many corporate execs then turned their attention elsewhere.
Although corporate philanthropy continues to be an important aspect of CSR, it is just one element of the full picture. Today, CSR is embraced in community relations, best business practices, and employee engagement for many of the world’s top global enterprises (e.g. Apple, Kraft Foods, Johnson & Johnson).
Consumers care about corporate socially responsibility
“Companies that focus solely on profits are out of sync with the times,” says Tim Sanders former chief solutions officer at Yahoo. His book, Saving the World at Work champions the responsibility revolution, wherein people want to make a positive difference, thrive, and achieve significance, ideas that strike a chord with many consumers today.
The triple bottom line (3BL) is about corporate success measured in a new way. No longer is it just profitability that matters to stakeholders. The 3 P’s of the triple bottom line are profit, people and planet and this translates to financials, social impact and environment. What this means is that consumers want to see companies making everyday decisions that work for the good of society and the environment, beyond their own profitability. And, it isn’t just consumers – it turns out this is really important to employees, too.
Employees want to work for companies whose values match their own
“As consumers are ever more concerned with where products come from, employees now want more from their employer than a paycheck. They want a sense of pride and fulfillment from their work, a purpose and importantly a company’s whose values match their own,” says Jeanne Meister a writer for Forbes.com and author of The 2020 Workplace. By the year 2020 (that’s just 7.5 years away), more than half of the workforce will be “millennial,” born in the 1980s or later.
What workers want is coming through loud and clear in study after study. For example, research shows 80 percent of 13-25 year olds wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society, Meister notes in “Corporate Social Responsibility: A Lever for Employee Attraction & Engagement.” Research by the non-profit Net Impact shows 72 percent of all workers want “a job where I can make an impact” and more than half (58 percent) said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for a company with values similar to their own.
Using multiple tools helps to communicate corporate social responsibility
This is great news for LT PR’s client companies who are already committed to social responsibility. The challenge is communicating these efforts beyond the C-suite to the outside world. Annually, Corporate Register lists about 40,000 CSR reports released from over 9,000 companies, and this makes it tough to get noticed.
Another, easier way to get the word out is social media. Using Twitter and Facebook to talk about CSR efforts is a great way to engage people to talk about social responsibility initiatives openly. And, to really reach the younger millennial audience, presenting CSR information using aps for iPad and Android will help reach the growing mobile audience.
If you are interested in engaging LT Public Relations for communicating corporate social responsibility, we are ready to assist you. Please contact:
LT Public Relations, email@example.com, Tel. 503/477-9215