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Can Corporate Social Responsibility Bridge the Gaps of Our Polarized Society?

Can Corporate Social Responsibility Bridge The Gaps Of Our Polarized Society?

Corporate Social Responsibility is key to bringing people and progress together, and employee engagement can play a crucial role.

By Livi Kerszenbaum, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility

A Polarized World

Nowadays, we find ourselves navigating through a polarized world. It is evident that the lack of civility and mutual respect in our current society has reached an all-time low, and the social fabric that once held our country together has weakened considerably.

In fact, the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a lack of faith in societal institutions triggered by various factors such as economic anxiety, disinformation, mass-class divide, and a failure of leadership. The annual Edelman online survey is in its 23rd year and included results from over 32,000 respondents across 28 countries. Globally, 53% of respondents believe their countries are more divided now than in the past, with a staggering 67% feeling the same way in the United States, which is one of the top six most polarized nations.

Economic optimism has also taken a hit. People now fear for their economic future without a safety net. Only 40% of global respondents say they and their families will be better off in five years, a 10-point decline from 2022. For Americans, a somber 36% believe that they and their families will be better off in five years.

The consequences of these divisions, if left unaddressed, are significant. The top five outcomes include: worsening prejudice and discrimination, slower economic development, violence in the streets, an inability to address societal challenges, and personal financial suffering.

Hope for a Brighter Future

Amidst these challenges, there is still hope. According to the Edelman report, public trust in businesses has increased as people pursue responsible and ethical leadership.

What does this mean?  Now… more than ever before, business is poised to be the catalyst of positive change in our society.

Corporate Social Responsibility is Key to Bringing People and Progress Together

Businesses have an important role to play in addressing these divisions and fostering unity. They can start by embracing or strengthening corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which have shown to be a powerful tool for creating a sense of collective belief and identity.

Moreover, employees who believe their company is positively impacting people and the planet are twice as engaged in their work and score higher for satisfaction and happiness.

Employees who work for organizations with a strong and meaningful purpose, reflected in their CSR efforts, are more motivated, inspired, and loyal.

Engaged employees reap numerous benefits.

  • They feel more aligned with their company’s purpose
  • They’re more connected to their peers
  • They experience greater motivation while completing tasks and projects

This engagement translates directly into improved company performance. Employers also benefit from:

  • Increased employee interest, recruiting ability, and retention
  • Increased efficiency
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased profitability
  • Better customer service

By actively promoting employee engagement, organizations can foster a sense of purpose and belonging among their workforce. This, in turn, leads to higher business performance and benefits both employees and employers alike.

So, what can businesses do to embrace CSR?

They can:

  • Support local communities
  • Commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices
  • Invest in fair compensation and skills training
  • Be a trustworthy source of information
  • Address climate and sustainability issues
  • Engage in societal solutions
  • Collaborate with NGOs and government
  • Use the power of brands to create a shared identity

As we forge ahead, hopeful and dedicated to bridging these divisions, it is imperative to remember that we each play a key role in this work. Businesses, in particular, can invest in these critical efforts and create lasting change through corporate social responsibility initiatives. By prioritizing engagement, organizations can create a sense of collective belief, motivate their employees, and ultimately improve their own performance in the process. At the local level, businesses can make a profound difference in the community where their employees live, work and play.

In knowing the benefits and positive societal impact of CSR strategies, it is vital for both employees and employers to make engagement a top priority. In doing so, we can pave the way together toward a more united and prosperous future.

Level-Up Your CSR with Orange County United Way

To learn how Orange County United Way can support your Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement contact Livi Kerszenbaum, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at LiviK@UnitedWayOC.org

Contact Livi Today!

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