Why CSR matters
“Is the business of business really just business? Is business all about profit? Or is business capable of being something more? You are the future business leaders so you will decide.”
These were the first words spoken to our business class on our first day of university. In the following weeks we examined the Business-Government-Society relationship, paying particular attention to the stakeholder model - the concept that a business provides value to society as a whole rather than just its shareholders. Having a conscience and pursuing a career in business no longer seemed like the laughable paradox our peers in other faculties joked about (there were endless comparisons between us and the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort).
For me, this was an important revelation. At 21 years of age, I am a ‘millennial’, representative of a generation of consumers that is recognized as being markedly more socially conscious than those that have gone before. It's an awareness that drives our career decisions, as evidenced by the fact that, three quarters of millennial candidates consider the social and environmental impact of prospective employers according to the ‘2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study’.
With millennials now making up more than a third of the workforce, talent acquisition and employment brand professionals would be wise to keep this motivation in mind when building the candidate persona for that target audience. Millennials have been brought up to save energy, recycle and purchase Fair Trade goods so it is only natural that they aspire to meaningful employment which reflects their personal values.
How to Enhance your Employer Brand with CSR
While CSR policies are often criticized as a cynical PR fad of “greenwashing”, there’s no doubt that CSR is becoming increasingly important in terms of talent acquisition. CSR is a prime example of how your consumer marketing and recruitment marketing initiatives complement each other.
The core CSR pillars of diversity, the environment, and the community feature at the heart of the best careers website landing pages and social media engagement, rather than being tucked away in convoluted 40 page PDF reports.
Putting CSR to the fore of your employer brand persuades candidates of the serious commitment of your company to CSR and how prospective employees will be able to contribute to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
After comparing the websites and Facebook pages of dozens of investment banks, auditing firms, technology companies and management consulting companies competing for interns and graduates in the ‘War for Talent’, I concluded that Accenture distinguishes itself with seamless integration of CSR into its employer brand.
So what lessons can TA managers learn from Accenture’s highly visual website and Facebook page?
Targets and metrics: recruiters look for candidates that know what they’re talking about. Likewise, candidates don’t want to hear waffle from companies. Stop tossing the buzzwords like “sustainability” around and provide targets and metrics we can evaluate. Accenture’s website clearly states its objective of achieving a 50/50 gender balance in the workplace by 2025 while interactive graphs demonstrate that the company has slashed carbon emissions per employee by 47%. Whether it's revenues, gender parity or carbon emissions reduction, people like to see tangible progress towards a specific goal.
Employee Generated Content: millennials aren’t going to be won over by the stock photo collages of women and non-Caucasians that have become commonplace on career websites. Candidates want to be able to relate to the company by hearing the employee stories. Accenture’s Facebook page features videos of employees volunteering, discussing LGBTQ+ inclusion within the workplace etc. Nothing works better for a consumer brand than other consumers endorsing it; the same principle applies for recruitment marketing!
While Accenture is an advocate of sustainability and diversity at an international level, it “also supports a number of causes in the communities that it is involved in” according to Walker Hart, a summer intern in the Dublin branch. When considering his internship options, Accenture’s CSR activities “played a pretty big role” in clinching him.
Relevant content and a strong EVP (Employee Value Proposition) portray a positive culture to millennials like Walker. While your company will attract candidates with a variety of personalities and interests, CSR is an effective way for your company to build a bridge with candidates and invite them to join a community of like-minded people.
Think of CSR as having long term benefits; your employer brand will stay in the minds of passive candidates who may not actively be seeking a new job now but who may consider applying to the organization in the future when they are ready to move on to their next challenge.
For more on attracting and retaining millennial workers in the financial services industry, check out the Clinch eBook, Recruiting for Financial Services: Headline Challenges and How Recruitment Marketing Can Help