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A View from the Top

Nigel Bamber, Country Manager, UK

The Vital Role of CSR

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a phrase which has, over the past decade, become increasingly heard in the boardroom. Whole sections of annual reports outline to investors what CSR activities firms are undertaking.  Some companies have set up CSR functions with teams of people working to ensure the organisation delivers on their strategies. It’s easy when markets are competitive and margins are tight, to focus elsewhere and let CSR activities slide – but that’s a mistake.

We just had our eighth Global Day of Giving at XL Group; from New York to New Delhi staff rolled up their sleeves and participated in projects as diverse as cleaning up parks to career days for students.  But we don’t view this as a jolly or a day out. We see wider benefits. 

UK governments have been quite vocal about CSR over recent years, saying that it should not be an add on, a side show, or incidental, but integral to modern businesses. And today it is widely accepted that trust and reputation are critical to business success.

Research carried out of UK employees reflects this thinking. Over half (57%) of employees want their companies to do more towards CSR and supporting charities, according to findings from a survey by employee engagement software provider, LeapCR.

The majority (63%) of UK employees said they believe that having paid time off during working hours to commit to charitable initiatives would significantly improve engagement in their company.

Almost half (49%) of UK employees said they were more likely to stay with an employer that encourages its workforce to donate time or raise money for charity within working hours and three-quarters (75%) said they want their employer to balance commercial success with good CSR strategies, including supporting charities.

There is no doubt that CSR can play a powerful part in recruiting talent. A survey conducted by BT, a communications group, found that one-third of respondents said that working for a caring and responsible employer was more important than the salary they earned. BT concluded that “Young professionals are increasingly looking at corporate social responsibility when considering which companies and brands they might work for.”

But it’s not just about recruiting talent; it’s also about retaining it. A good CSR policy will help to do both while keeping up morale.

As I have already alluded to, CSR should never just be about the feel good factor; there are some real tangible benefits. A company can develop sustainable, long term relationships and partnerships with charities, for example.

Although our Global Day of Giving was one day, we will look to develop the relationships we formed as part of our long term continuing CSR activities.  We have already arranged for students from our careers day to come in to undertake work experience. Who knows, they may end up working for us and participating in one of our future Global Days of Giving!

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