At ING, we have developed a strong corporate responsibility (CR) program that is enhanced through engagement in all levels of our company. What have we learned? Buy-in and communications are important on a variety of levels. Tying CR directly to the CEO is critical. A CR program with strong support from the CEO and board will strengthen the company’s reputation, promote transparency, and increase profits.
But a top-down approach alone won’t ensure success. Middle management is crucial since it feeds the pipeline of talent to senior management and creates a culture that supports CR efforts. If there are constant organizational changes, reaching these critical frontline managers must be a continuous effort, not a one-time sell.
But ensuring that all employees are working together to support corporate responsibility is also essential. All staff should be CR ambassadors. Without that mutual support, employees may not feel comfortable volunteering or engaging in affinity resource groups.
In the age of social media, prospective employees are looking to make a difference in their jobs. A strong CR program will widen the pool of candidates committed to doing good at work and in their communities. They are the candidates we want at ING.
A strong internal and external CR messaging campaign will enhance your company’s reputation by showing stakeholders that you care about your employees and the community. At ING, we work hard every day to get the word out about the good work of our foundation and the communities we serve.
The bottom line for any business, of course, is profitability. A well-planned CR program can be a strong factor in not only hiring talented employees, but driving consumer behavior. When you provide both a clear understanding of your company’s ethical behavior among your stakeholders and the best products and services, you create a recipe for success.
Rhonda R. Mims, JD, is president of ING Foundation.