by Anne Rackow

As we near the end of each year, we often find that the holiday season inspires a feeling a goodwill towards others and reflection on the events of the past year. As a business, it is a great time to reflect on what your company may have done to create an ethical work space, contribute to the wellness of your employees, or positively impact the global community. Developing a workplace that benefits our world can take many forms, and every company does it differently. The most important thing is that what you do aligns with your company’s values, and that you take stock of your initiatives on a regular basis to ensure they are having the desired results, for both your company and the community.

As you look back on the year to assess whether your company is on the “naughty” or “nice” list, there are a few strategies you can employ to get a more accurate picture of your impact:

Gather Feedback

Collect feedback from staff, stakeholders, and any customers or community partners that participated in or benefited from your corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. Depending on the size of your company and the complexity of your initiatives, this may take the form of disseminating an anonymous survey, hosting a focus group, or hiring an independent evaluator who can combine multiple methods of data collection and analysis. 

Crunch the Numbers

Is there any quantitative data to review? Combining anecdotal information with quantitative information such as costs or time spent will give you a much more complete view. Did you track the number of employees who participated in volunteer days, the amount of money donated by employees and/or matched by your company, or perhaps the number of hours that staff was able to dedicate to a pro-bono project, which resulted in money saved by the receiving charity? 

Has you company been good this year via Whywhisper

Define Success

If you haven’t already done so, define success. Identify the intended outcomes of your impact strategies and then compare this to the actual results, so as to determine whether you really hit your mark.  If not, don’t get discouraged, get creative! Assign a team to brainstorm where enhancements can be made and decide on the appropriate improvement strategies.

Write It Down

Document the lessons learned and next steps. Share this information with staff and stakeholders and then get to work! There is no “one size fits all” approach or perfect implementation strategy for CSR. Like most processes in business, it is best to have a mindset of continuous quality improvement. 

Extra Guidance

You are not alone on the social responsibility path. There is an ever-growing community of folks trying to run successful businesses while simultaneously making the world a better place. There are also many groups like WhyWhisper who are committed to supporting you along the way. If you are stumped on where to go next with your CSR strategy, just reach out to others for a bit of help. Also, check out these past posts by WhyWhisper that share reading materials and other resources for staying informed.

Did you learn any lessons in 2016 that you feel would be beneficial to share with others? Perhaps tips on successful strategies or pitfalls to try to avoid? Are you interested in an outside perspective on your current strategy? If so, we encourage you to connect with us!