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Why your hiring strategy should include corporate social responsibility

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

In the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, 75 per cent of respondents globally said they trusted their organisation to ‘do what is right’, joining them in taking action on societal issues. It’s clear that, these days, people expect their company to do more. As well as focusing on profit growth and Employee wellbeing, managers must consider the wider context of their business, and how it can contribute to valuable causes locally and further afield.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can cover a whole multitude of actions, whether you choose to support projects within your immediate community, develop environmental and sustainable ways of working, or champion a particular issue. It helps businesses build trust with customers, partners, governments, and most importantly for us (as we take a look at this in the context of hiring) Employees.

One of the first benefits CSR has when it comes to hiring is that it helps to attract mission-focused Employees. We know that 53 per cent of people say that ‘a job where they can make an impact’ is important to their happiness – and the majority of these would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve this. While I’m not suggesting you do this, these types of workers are sure to make a great addition to your team – they’re often highly motivated, aiming to work hard and make a visible difference through their efforts.

Building your company brand makes a big difference when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, and a CSR programme which increases your standing can play a key part in this. In fact, 84 per cent of people look at an organisation’s reputation before deciding to apply for a job. To stand out from the competition, consider taking on a cause close to your heart, which will not only increase interest from applicants, but will help to motivate, engage and retain current Employees.

At Allen Associates, we’re happy to go the extra mile. Having enjoyed more than 20 successful years in business, we want to give back to the community that’s supported us and enabled us to be successful. For the last ten years we have supported the OX5 Run, raising money for the Oxford Children’s Hospital, and when we hear from clients whose families have benefitted from medical treatment there, you feel a real sense of shared purpose. As well as this, we also give our time to The Ley Community, Reciprocate and Aspire Oxford.

We find that CSR is important to Employees of all ages. In our office, everyone gets excited about the OX5 Run, discussing training regimes, getting competitive about race times and joking about past events. However, we also know that this is particularly important to a new generation of Employees entering the workforce. Research shows that 76 per cent of millennials consider a company’s social commitments before deciding where to work, and 64 per cent of these won’t take a job if these things don’t match up to expectations.

Of course, any CSR programme has to be genuine – you need to be able to show that action has been taken, as well as to talk about why you’ve chosen to support a particular issue or cause. Anything you choose needs to reflect your core business values. Increasingly, companies are realising that their choices need to be strategic. Amanda Mackenzie, chief executive of the charity Business in the Community sums this up well, she says that leaders need to ‘try to make it intrinsic to the way they run their business’.

Jobseekers can be quick to spot examples of tokenism. But, if you can find a natural link, supporting a project that aligns with what you’re doing as a business, you’ll also find that you’re attracting Candidates who believe in the same values as you. They’ll not only have the necessary skills and attributes, buy they’ll also have a shared interest, indicating that they will be a good cultural fit, working well within your existing team.

Perhaps the easiest way of doing this is to give your time and expertise. Take for example marketing and analytics company Aimia, who have supported more than 40 charities giving thousands of hours for free to help them unlock their data and improve services. Choosing a cause to support doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s incredibly easy to do, and for potential Employees, the chance to volunteer, use their experience charitably and really make a difference is bound to appeal.

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