Doing good by doing well – The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility as a competitive advantage

Top talent is looking beyond climbing the corporate ladder and monthly pay-cheques to seek out work that provides a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. They want to link their day job with an organisation’s mission that goes beyond the financial success of the business. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is the self-regulation of a company to ensure they are giving back to society through initiatives; such as charitable donations, pro-bono services or a focus on improving sustainability, is one of the drivers for talent when considering their next move. As the only Big 4 accounting firm in Australia to report separately on what they do in terms of responsible business, Deloitte Australia’s 2015 Responsible Business Report reflects the firm’s commitment to lead this change in our industry and provide a greater meaning to the work we do.

A few highlights from the report include a breakdown of the $16.4 million donated to the community in 2014.  In the report, CEO, Cindy Hook explains that this was done in a number of ways, including Pro-Bono work, $1.5 million in cash donations to charities and an annual staff volunteer day. This consists of playing a vital role in developing the capacity of CanTeen’s young leaders, helping youth development not-for-profit organisation High Resolves become a leader in youth engagement in Australia, as well as providing emergency relief, volunteer hours, fundraising and pro-bono assistance to long standing charity partner; Oxfam.

In addition to donating valuable time, funds and skills, Deloitte has implemented a reconciliation action plan, reflecting the firm’s commitment to collaborating with Australia’s First Peoples towards prosperity.  thumb_env_glb_ho_1959_resize_1024_0

Being a responsible business is about good business. It helps the community and our clients, while improving engagement and retention of our people. Engagement in the general workforce is decreasing at an alarming rate and responsible business is one way of changing that.

Martin Stewart-Weeks, an independent advisor and consultant and a director at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), is a senior advisor to Deloitte Australia’s public sector team. In addition to his work on digital transformation in government and public sector policy and management reform, Martin has a long standing interest in the role of organisations in broadening social value creation and their Impact on society. With Deloitte playing more in the social innovation space, Martin took the opportunity to be part of this change.

Deloitte Australia released its first responsible business report in 2013. Since then Martin has seen an evolution of the whole CSR debate. The idea is emerging that responsible business is evolving to something that is more associated with core business practice.

Martin has also seen a growing interest in CSR across Australia. The amount of innovation in this area has evolved to a level where organisations are developing a business response as a cluster of innovation around accounting, advisory and digital with a social intent.

Making an impact no longer means losing profit.  Another compelling driver for implementing CSR is its ability to foster innovation and create a competitive advantage.  Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen explained recently how Deloitte aspires to be a role model of quality, integrity and positive change while redefining what social impact means in business, by creating a response to social issues as a business.  Corporate Social Responsibility, done strategically, is no longer simply a PR or marketing function, it’s a competitive advantage and helps create a world where industry and society flourish together. We have reached the epitome of traditional business models and have moved into an era where organisations need to create innovative ways to be competitive. Investing beyond CSR can meet this requirement and the shared value created adds new layers of competitiveness.  Businesses that have the insight and capabilities to include responsible business in their strategic plan should – those that do will be in the forefront of shaping and crafting the future of business.thumb_bzi_col_glb_ho_2283_resize_1024_0 (2)

Doing good by doing well. Organisations need profit to make a real impact on society. This is a great opportunity both for business and society. Martin says that as scale and sustainability have become hot topics, making a difference at a large scale needs money, making a profit by doing good and reinvesting it in the community helps achieve this.

Small businesses may feel they don’t have the scale to implement a CSR strategy into their business model, but there are many ways in which they can make a difference. Many businesses are part of Pledge 1%, which enables small businesses to commit 1% of their time, product or equity to important causes.

Clearly, responsible business goes beyond CSR.  It’s also seen as treating staff well, creating career paths, ethical behaviour and responsible sustainability.  Many organisations are looking internally at ways to improve the experience of their employees. Deloitte, along with many other large organisations, has recently announced plans to scrap traditional performance management, opting for a light touch but deeper talent conversations. This helps staff blend their core capabilities and aspirations to make something bigger in a way that they haven’t been able to in the past. This flexible approach helps responsible business, retains talent and gives meaning and more control over their careers.

What CSR Measures has your organisation put in place? How is your organisation becoming part of the solution?

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