Why Aren’t You Using Corporate Social Responsibility as a Recruiting Tool?

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a broad-strokes term for practices companies enact to ensure their work impacts society at large in a positive way. These practices are often rooted in the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, cascading from there to each stakeholder involved. CSR practices tend to be industry-specific, meaning the particular form they take depends heavily on the company and industry.

While CSR’s primary goal is to leave a positive mark on the world, it is equally beneficial to the company itself. CSR unites employees, employers, and their surrounding communities, and that pays dividends when it comes to recruiting.

How a company practices CSR within the boundaries of the industry in which the company operates speaks to that organization’s brand image. Consumers are more likely to engage with an organization that openly communicates its intention to be socially responsible. When a company’s values align with those of its customers and employees, more of those customers and employees will stick with the company. CSR also has a magnetic effect, pulling in new customers and employees who share the organization’s values.

CSR as a Recruiting Tool

CSR is now as much a part of the hiring process as offering an attractive salary and top-of-the-line benefits. Enthusiastic candidates in the labor market today — especially younger candidates — actively look for employers with healthy CSR practices. They want work with a purpose, and they know they are more likely to find that work at companies with strong CSR programs.

“I invest a lot of my time in environmental protection and advocating for environmental justice,” Nia Burton, a graduate student, told me. “Especially during the hiring process, I want to know the company I’m interested in is concerned with the quality of the future we have on this earth. … Having concern for the environment shows that a company cares about the world as a whole and not just its [own] brand.”

It’s important to make sure candidates can easily find information about your company’s CSR efforts when they inevitably begin researching your organization on the internet. Your website and social media profiles are two compelling channels to highlights your various initiatives.

Creating a platform to advertise how CSR is ingrained in your brand can catch the eye of potential employees. This fact is illustrated by the story of Daniella Meyers, a recent addition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. Meyers told me she was drawn to the organization because part of its brand entails giving back to the community.

“Before an interview, I’ll look up the company and see its community impact,” Meyers says. “Being in the sports industry [means] our work will have a direct impact on the community around us. The Buccaneers culture is about giving back, and that is what I like to see.”

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Candidates expect to start hearing about CSR in the early stages of the hiring process. If they don’t, they may perceive this as a red flag. Rachel Land, a graduate student at the University of Tampa actively interviewing with companies in the Tampa Bay area, put it best when she told me: “Any company with a strong hiring process will touch on the elements of environmental and social governance. I want to know how the company for which I’m applying makes sure [it is] socially responsible.”

Who’s in Charge of CSR?

While CSR is especially important to younger candidates in today’s job market, it is vital that everyone from interns to seasoned employees understands and is part of a company’s CSR efforts. That’s because candidates want to see company leaders and employees really embodying CSR in authentic ways.

Cindy Rodriguez, a young woman in the environmental engineering field, told me she pays close attention to senior managers when learning about a company’s CSR programs.

“I look to higher management not only for diversity but also for education on the topic,” Rodriguez says. “I would like to see how companies disclose their environmental and social governance practices to their employees in light of the recent political climate.”

Is there a committee or board in charge of managing CSR at your company? How are employees informed of current and future initiatives? How often is information about CSR shared? Having a group of people in charge of holding the company accountable for CSR practices is a great way to show potential hires there is a concrete system in place for CSR maintenance and growth.

Attracting ambitious talent is a top priority for any business. Promoting CSR as an integral pillar of an organization’s brand will give that business the competitive edge necessary to land top talent in the labor market. Today’s young professionals want to leave the world a better place. Giving them the tools to do so is a great way to attract them to your organization above the rest.

Alexa Scudillo is a consulting specialist at EisnerAmper.

By Alexa Scudillo