World savior wanted “I just have to go save the world.” Could this quote from Tim Bendzko’s song become a new slogan for employees? But what approaches are companies and the world of work taking to make ethics and sustainability more inclusive? Where is the greatest potential to have a lasting impact on the economy? And what can you do?  

Corporate Social Responsibility

In the past, it used to be called civic engagement or simply neighbourhood help, but today people prefer to fall back on less outdated terms such as “corporate social responsibility” or “corporate citizenship” when companies are active in the environmental and social fields. The increasing discussion about corporate social responsibility is also increasing their involvement in social projects, which are often portrayed as altruistic in Sunday speeches.

In contrast to the 1990s, when shareholder value was the top priority, most companies today include all interest groups in their corporate objectives and pursue a more holistic stakeholder dialogue. This is because many sectors of the economy have recognized that they can shape and influence their direct environment through CSR programs – without expensive advertising campaigns. However, an interference of the legislator for the purpose of uniform standards in this mostly altruistically praised commitment is not desired, because every company wants to determine the degree of responsibility for itself.

Internal company initiative often leads to public commitment
In “social volunteering”, companies assign their employees to work for a non-profit cooperation partner for one or more days. For example, management consultants swap their suits for painters’ coats and renovate a kindergarten or create a wetland biotope in a primary school. Volunteer agencies act as intermediaries between companies and institutions in need of help. These agencies then find a suitable cooperation partner in the respective region for the requests and offers of a company.

Monika Nitsche, head of the Munich agency “Tatendrang”, observes that it is mainly companies from the consulting and communication sectors that ask for “Social Days”. The initiative for a social commitment usually comes from a special working group of the workforce or directly from the marketing department of a company.

Sustainable bonds and long-term commitment
The Munich-based volunteer agency itself benefits from the principle of “corporate volunteering”, because as a pro bono client of an advertising agency, its own level of awareness could be increased enormously through a new web presence. Under the slogan “Donate time instead of money”, Tatendrang organizes, for example, the bookmark campaign, supports a resettlement program of the city of Munich and organizes the annual “Marketplace of Good Business Munich”, according to its own presentation, a “speed dating” for non-profit organizations with companies. At this event the local economy offers time donations for good causes.

This often results in a long-term cooperation that goes beyond a one-time assignment of a company and is also continued in the private sphere of the employees. These ties are especially important to Monika Nitsche: “We do not support zapping in the social sector, but always want to show the perspective of a long-term partnership. The interests of the non-profit sector are paramount, which is why there is no room for events in our company”.

Self-interest and common good
When asked whether, in times of economic crisis, many a company that has acquired a bad image during the crisis wants to polish up its own reputation in the public eye through social commitment, Monika Nitsche admits: “Of course we question the motivation of companies. At the same time, it is clear to us that the companies see a concrete benefit in their CSR strategy”. But ultimately, the non-profit cooperation partners are free to choose whether or not they want to work with an investment bank or a telecommunications company.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the number of hours of the service provided. And unlike in the real economy, this cannot be converted into money. Because all work has the same value and represents a sustainable commitment to society.

Author: Manuel Boecker https://www.jobware.de/Karriere/Corporate-Social-Responsibility.html

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