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Corporate Social Responsibility Programs Have to be More Than Window Dressing

Healthy businesses rely upon healthy communities — working together, each can survive and thrive. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs must be more than window-dressing for companies, and consider a broader ecosystem to do real good for the business, its employees, customers and community.

Loretto, a healthcare organization that provides services for older adults, has focused its CSR programs around its employees and the challenges they face. Take Loretto’s initiatives in Syracuse as an example. Syracuse’s poverty rate, already ranked 13th worst in the U.S. in 2016, continued to rise in 2017. According to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, nearly one-third of Syracuse’s residents live below the federal poverty line. In addition, Syracuse claimed the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated among blacks and Hispanics out of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Loretto believes companies in Syracuse face dual goals: running a successful business and supporting the community. So, CSR programs are very important to the region and play a major role in a company’s success. CSR programs showcase an organization’s commitment while providing a vital lifeline for impoverished members of the community that local government may not be able to assist.

Loretto, 65 percent of whose staff is comprised of women of color from low-income areas, tries to identify the systemic issues its employees face and provide solutions. For example, parents with children under the age of four have access to a diaper bank where they can get up to 50 free diapers per month. Why is this important? Most child care centers require parents or caregivers to provide a full day’s worth of diapers for their child. When families cannot meet this requirement, they often miss work.

Programs like these have a trickledown effect. Employees with consistent access to child care attend work regularly, which can lead to an increase in earnings as well as opportunities for advancement.

In addition to a diaper bank, Loretto also provides a free urgent care site (which has roughly 100 visits per month), a hardship fund for employees, a car-buying program, education pipeline program and programs designed to create an open dialogue regarding race.

CSR is a must for many organizations and is especially important in communities like Syracuse. Communicating these initiatives effectively is almost as important as the execution.

Mower, an independent advertising, marketing and public relations agency, has a proven track record of assisting organizations as they develop, activate and report CSR results to stakeholders and members of the community in authentic and transparent ways.

“Think of CSR as an agreement between a company and its constituents,” said Chuck Beeler, director, public relations, Mower. “Consistently reporting efforts and results provides stakeholders and members of the community with updates about efforts that they can support, attracts valuable candidates to your organization and has the power to rally others behind your cause.”

Mower’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategic planning module assists companies and organizations by creating a clear, concise vision and message for their commitment to corporate citizenship.