By: Mollye Rhea
Partnerships that reflect a company’s purpose resonate with employees and customers. Today’s consumers have come to expect alignment between brand values and their own. Authentic core values are what define a company or brand and should be an integral part of the decision-making process and messaging. It’s not enough to post core values on the company website or on the conference room wall – they must be lived on a daily basis. This is especially important during the hiring process. Having specific skills and relevant experience is no longer enough. A successful candidate must also be a good cultural fit and have shared values.
Tying core values to partnerships is a meaningful way for a company to authentically shape its culture. Employee engagement, volunteerism and team building all need to align with a company’s values to create a true connection to the partner’s mission and to the company. Encourage authenticity in the workplace through social impact by building choice into CSR programs. Allowing employees to participate in choosing a cause or nonprofit partner helps them remain passionate and energized and allows them to address issues that are important to them. This is key as the lines between our personal and business lives become blurred. Be sure to recognize employees for their volunteer efforts, and let the world know about the good work they and the company is doing.
While some companies have built flexibility into their programs allowing individuals to support their own causes, company-wide causes are typically chosen by leadership or the CSR team. The General Mills Foundation adopted an employee-centered strategy and learned by listening, that as a global food business, employees feel the focus should be on hunger relief and food security. They are also passionate about preserving the planet. General Mills followed through by giving employees a permanent voice at the table and engaging them in ways that drives value for the business.
Companies with strong cultures and core values tied to partnerships tend to perform better. It’s not surprising that many of the companies with the best CSR reputations also make up the Fortune 100 – Disney is an excellent example. Companies that demonstrate their genuine commitment by using their products, services and profits to make a lasting impact will experience greater employee and customer loyalty.
Aligning social impact with core values and communicating why a cause or partner was chosen sends employees, shareholders and customers the message that the company is authentic, which creates business value.