When Big Business Listens to Gen Y, CSR Gets Personal
July 19, 2007
I attended a great meeting yesterday about CSR. For those of you who don’t know PR speak, that stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. And that stands for big businesses giving away money, improving communities, and being overall good corporate citizens. The speaker – a top-level executive of a Fortune 500 company – made a great point that I was happy to hear in person from someone at his level: Young workers today want – among other things – volunteerism opportunities from the companies they are going to work for. This isn’t the first time someone’s said that. Bloggers and career experts agree. Research backs it up. Deloitte recently did a study that showed as much. Apparently, companies are listening.
The speaker noted, as I nodded my head in the audience in agreement, that in the next 10 years, most companies will lose half of their workforce to retirement. Most of these jobs will go to younger workers. And companies that want to make it through this massive transition need to work to recruit (and retain) talented young workers now, before there is a huge worker shortage.
That means, plain and simple, that they need to appeal to Gen X and Gen Y workers to attract the most talented people. And these workers are speaking out about what they want. Many want to work for socially responsible and ethical companies. They even want to be involved in a personal level in their companies’ efforts. He explained that this knowledge has directly informed their company CSR strategy. Yes, the company still gives money as a corporate entity, they are involved in all the typical CSR efforts, they have environmental and ethical standards they uphold. And that’s all excellent. What’s exciting is, they’re also meeting the CSR desires of young workers, in the form of a program that allows any employee to get paid their regular wages for 8 hours a year to go volunteer somewhere else. In a way, it’s CSR gone personal. Personal social responsibility, if you will, on the company dime. They’re also working to expand the program. I’m sure they’re not the first company to do this. It’s not unheard of. That’s not the point.
For me, to know that an executive at his level is very seriously taking into account the needs and wants expressed by Gen X and Gen Y workers is exciting. That they have taken action already is even better. When change starts happening at the top, it trickles down. If this is any indication, it appears that Gen Y workers may end up getting much of what they want from the workforce – soon. And, from Baby Boomers, I might add. That’s what I’m talking about.