If your organization is seeking its next generation of executives, and hoping to attract the attention of the 86 million millennials that currently make up the largest population group on the planet, a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is one of the most compelling tools for both recruiting millennial talent and attracting millennial customers.
The culture of your company is a key ingredient setting you apart from your competitors in the eyes of millennials, and CSR is one of the best ways to shape that culture and show future hires that your company is serious about giving back. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of millennials surveyed said they strongly consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when considering where to work, and the same number indicated they won’t even take a job if a company doesn’t have a strong CSR program. More than nine in 10 millennials also said they would switch brands to one associated with a cause.
However, even if your organization has the most robust and impactful CSR programs, it must be communicated in a way that resonates with millennials — internally and externally. Without effective marketing and communications around CSR, you could be missing out on a huge pool of potential star employees and customers inspired to buy your products and services.
Here are five strategies for highlighting and marketing your CSR program to recruit millennial talent and attract millennial customers:
Document your impact. If your company is already doing great work, make sure announcements are not restricted to internal circulation or to press releases that job candidates and prospective customers may or may not read. Set your work apart by being specific about your company’s past accomplishments, current developments and future goals.
Examples include the percentage of your employees that volunteer or the impact of your work toward a certain area of need, such as education or the environment. Share reporting after an event or campaign to demonstrate the results of your business’ efforts. Be sure to include key statistics, photos and next steps for the program.
Once you’ve compiled some content, include the highlights in your recruiting materials and media outreach, and have the rest on hand for potential hires (and anyone!) who may be interested in learning more.
Lean in to the local angle. It’s common for organizations to use CSR as a way of thinking ‘big picture’ about how and where they can affect global change. This is great and will be of interest to new recruits and customers, but be mindful of the fact that many millennials are also enthusiastic about companies that provide opportunities to support their local communities, whether it’s through a local nonprofit, at a sustainable farmers’ market, working with local businesses/schools or through community-based programs and classes.
It is important not to zoom out too much when establishing and discussing the impact of your CSR program. Impress high-achieving recruits by showcasing how your initiatives help the local community, making a difference right where employees live and work. Publicize those efforts and results in conjunction with your PR department to ensure the word is getting out to millennial customers.
Let your CSR programs be a shining star on your website (+ other digital content). You’re working to be part of a solution, so don’t hide that away under multiple menu drop-downs. Featuring CSR programs prominently on your website and career site allow interested job seekers and curious consumers to see what you’re about right away, perhaps even before you’ve had a chance to talk to them or discuss publicly.
Highlighting CSR programs and results communicates to anyone visiting your site that your cause(s) are central to the company culture. As a follow up, include information about your company’s impact in press releases, email campaigns and job postings to make sure your initiatives stay top of mind.
Showcase what employees can gain by giving. How can participation in your CSR program help young professionals hone a skill they may not have expected to develop in the workplace? Don’t miss the chance to expand on how company initiatives can help employees grow personally and professionally. In fact, Deloitte’s 2016 Impact Survey found that employee volunteering can play a significant role in building key leadership skills. Not only can recruits choose to be a part of a community that is dedicated to creating positive change, they can also make positive changes in themselves by participating.
Align profit and purpose. Forward-thinking companies that can effectively align profit and purpose also stand a much greater chance of reaching millennials. One example is Subaru of America, who partnered successfully with Respond, Inc., a nonprofit in Camden, N.J. to offer Camden residents the opportunity to experience the entry level training required of all Subaru technicians.
This partnership, part of Subaru University, is increasing job opportunities for program participants, including potential job placements with local Subaru retailers. Initiatives such as this one in Camden are clear proof that aligning profit and purpose is a CSR trend to watch.
Many people are interested in what a company stands for, how it gives back, and how it helps create positive change in its community and in the world, but millennials in particular look at this when considering where they should work and what products and services they buy. Package up your CSR efforts so that they can be featured in your recruitment marketing, and when you are pitching your company to an in-demand potential hire, don’t forget to let them know not only what they can get by taking the job, but also how they can be part of a culture of giving back.
Be sure to also feature your CSR efforts prominently in social media posts, bylined articles, press releases and other external materials to let millennials know you’re a company committed to social responsibility. You’ll see a significant impact on the quality of your job candidates and on your bottom line.
Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Peggy Anderson, vice president of global talent acquisition at Blackbaud. She has over 30 years of leadership experience in HR and Talent Acquisition at companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Under Armour.