Corporate Social Responsibility: How to align it to your company expertise

Mariano Stampella

Senior Business Development Manager

13 min read

Think global, act local. It’s a phrase we hear ever more frequently as individuals around the world become more conscious of the impact their actions have on wider trends. And, in business, this invariably means consumers, stakeholders, and employees are now more discerning than ever when it comes to the authenticity of the brands they connect with. Corporations globally are reinvesting huge amounts of revenue to help address the complex factors at play that come with running multinationals through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. 

For instance, Google donated $1 billion to homeless programs in San Francisco in recognition of the impact Silicon Valley tech-firms have had on the extreme housing crisis in the area. Whilst no doubt impressive, perhaps even more exciting are the examples of corporations who are aiming to reinvent their own business practices entirely to create more sustainable modes of operation. Following three years of work delivered by 100 employees and a $155 million investment from the company, Lego unveiled its first range of sustainable bricks in 2019. Produced entirely from sugarcane, the new models retained the characteristic qualities the Lego brand is known and loved for. 

 

Lego was sensitive to the global impact of rampant plastic use and the local demands of its customers for more sustainable products. Instead of waiting for sales figures to drop, it found a way to mobilize the expertise of its employees, utilize the benefits of its facilities and create a new product that resonates with its business. 

 

In my eyes, this is the core of what Corporate Social Responsibility can, and should, look like. However, don’t feel that CSR is the sole remit of companies with 6-figure reinvestment budgets. 

By taking a leaf from Lego’s plant-based book and aligning CSR with company expertise it’s possible for businesses of any size to start an initiative that creates real value and resonates with the mission and vision your team works towards every day.

Be conscious of factors at play in your local environment

No company operates in a vacuum. Taking stock of the factors at play in the direct local environment can be an excellent way to provide support. The challenges might seem disconnected from your business operations but, if you take some time to think, there are often ways company expertise can lend a hand. 

 

For example, back in 2006, we were keenly aware of the social difficulties and lack of career opportunities many young people growing up in Buenos Aires were facing at the time. Of course, the issue was much more complex and far-reaching than we had the ability to fix overnight, but we didn’t let that deter us from trying. 

 

Being software developers and coders at our core, we set out to offer digital skills in coding to small cohorts with the aim of creating career pathways for these groups. This marked the start of Proyecto Nahual. It took several iterations of the course before we realized that focusing the training on software testing was a feasible program to fit into a 16-week course and created a reliable career entry point for our groups. 

 

As the project went from strength to strength, graduates eventually launched Nahual IT which offers software testing as a service to international clients. 10 years later, it’s still entirely fueled by the dedication of our volunteers who share their knowledge to train the community. More than 500 students have passed through Nahual and over 100 have secured employment as software testers - some even with intive!

Giving back with tech

Examining the observations, you come across during your daily tasks is another potential source of inspiration. You may realize there’s an unsolved challenge or gap in the market which can be turned into a CSR initiative with the competencies of your company. 

 

For instance, a digital skill set is essential for modern life, but we discovered that there was a significant lack of software and applications designed for the specific learning and development needs of children with autism and Down Syndrome. 

 

Proyecto Dane was launched to discover new ways to leverage technology and develop new educational and therapeutic benefits through a range of applications. The project offers both ways to enhance the daily life of these children and ensure this generation isn’t excluded from their digitally native peers. Applications under the project, such as Jugamos Todos, Conversador and Conversador Sintactico (that it will be delivered soon), help the children to develop specific areas of cognitive ability like memory, attention, language, reading and writing, spacetime orientation, and psychomotor skills.

 

Another example of this includes intive’s Rescue App. The application – now in its prototype phase – answers the needs of professional rescue teams who lack an easy, intuitive tool for rescue operations enrollment management. The solution enables rescuers to communicate faster, send automated messages and speed up the organizational aspect of their work. Gathering a rescue team and confirming attendance can now be managed in the blink of an eye. The first version of the app will be rolled out in Poland in 2020. It’s designed as a hybrid application, easy to scale up and adjust to different requirements. Future features include stock management, a reporting panel and versions in multiple languages.

 

The sustainable, eco-friendly business angle is also gaining momentum across intive. There are dozens of ways in which companies can address their environmental footprint. intive in Poland treated its office relocation in Wrocław as an opportunity to try out a zero-waste approach. A dedicated team produced a ZeroWaste App through which employees were able to book used office equipment and buy it for a symbolic amount. All the funds collected in this way will be spent on a tree planting initiative aimed at reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Thanks to the ZeroWaste App 75% of old office furniture found its new home among employees and various NGOs.

Create meaningful work for your employees

Studies have shown that inspired employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied employees. Closely aligning CSR initiatives with your company expertise creates myriad ways to offer opportunities for your staff.  

 

At intive, the projects we launched over a decade ago are now benefiting from the global expertise as they’ve grown alongside the company. For example, our product team in Europe was instrumental in helping to design and develop the last app (Conversador) during development and testing. 

 

Additionally, outside of supporting these initiatives, it also creates a knock-on effect for other teams to spearhead their own ideas and ways to help. Our teams are now supporting projects and hackathons both led by us and in the wider software development sector, such as Developers for Good, a community of young people, entrepreneurs, programmers and technology experts giving back to the community with their technical skills.

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