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Global CSR Leadership Awards at the World CSR Congress

 

I feel truly honored to have been recognized with the Global CSR Leadership Award, together with some outstanding colleagues at the 6th edition of the World CSR Congress held in Mumbai, India, early this month.

 

I felt humbled at finding myself in such amazing company where I was also invited to deliver a presentation called ‘Empowering women through Corporate Social Responsibility’

 

Proud of my roots, I dressed in a traditional embroidered Mexican blouse and I received this award on behalf of all the amazing people and organizations I have worked with during my career, both in Mexico and Australia.

 

Being the first Mexican woman recognized in the previous edition of the congress as one of the 100 most impactful CSR leaders, I expressed at the ceremony this year that we Mexicans are talented and innovative and this is why our contributions are and will always be recognized all around the world despite walls and adversities.

 

I want to congratulate Dr. R. L. Bhatia, Founder of the World CSR Day, and his extraordinary team for putting together such a colossal event once again.

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A celebration of Australia’s contribution to medical research

 

The influence of Australian researchers to major advances in health is remarkable. Several of them have won a Nobel Prize for their contributions to the world, amongst them Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, awarded in 2005 for discovering the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis.

 

At Prima HealthTech we know that technology is crucial for these advancements, that’s why it was vital and a pleasure for me to attend the Medical Research Week superbly organised by The Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR).

 

The Medical Research Week is a celebration of Australia’s contribution to medical research. Held the first week of June, it was comprised by a speaking tour by ASMR Medallist, public expositions, scientific meetings, public lectures and debates, radio shows, schools events, scientific meetings, and more.

 

As part of this commemoration, I was part of a group of delegates from Prima HealthTech who attended the Gala Dinner where the ASMR Medallist 2016, Professor Theodore Berger, presented his extraordinary project to develop a microchip-based neural prosthesis for the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for long-term memory.

 

Professor Berger, named as one of ‘The 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013’, is the perfect example of bold commitment to improving peoples’ quality of life, and his words are prove of it when he says: “If you want to accomplish something extraordinary in science, you need to be unrelentingly courageous”.

 

Top leaders of the health and medical research field in Australia spoke to dozens of attendees. Mr Frank McGuire MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research; Dr Tony Willis, Executive director of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Programs; Dr Sarah Meachem, ASMR President, amongst others.

 

In this event I had the opportunity to talk to delegates about PROmptus™ Research, Prima HealthTech’s cutting-edge technology that is helping Australian health researchers to carry out their projects in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

 

I am especially proud of PROmptus™ Research given that it’s one of the products that we are now commercialising as a result of our shared value program ‘Prime Technology For Our Community’, whereby the company addresses societal issues while contributing to the business strategy. This reinforces our Corporate Social Responsibility philosophy and showcases the talent of our team.

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Are you a CSR master chef?

A quiz for those passionate about Corporate Social Responsibility and food.

As a foodie that enjoys varied cuisine, I like watching cooking programs like MasterChef. It could well be that because I love food as much as I enjoy working in Corporate Social Responsibility, that I find several similarities between them, as much as to say that many of us are CSR Master Chefs.

We are surely not competing for immunity or to get ‘the power apron’, and we may certainly consider ourselves more than just amateurs. Nevertheless, there are several parallels between the TV show and us. Answer these questions and you’ll see what I mean.

 

1.Is your professional background originally different from CSR?

 

Most of us CSR professionals, same as the MasterChef contestants, come from varied backgrounds not necessarily related to CSR, or cooking in their case. Some of us are Marketing practitioners, Project Managers, Accountants, HR, and the list goes on. However, some time and somehow, we all realise that CSR/cooking is our real passion and decide that this is what we want to do.

Fortunately, some of us have been given the opportunity to study courses in CSR or related, but almost none of us studied a CSR degree simply because there was none in our university time! I wonder if studying CSR at Uni would have taken away the fun of the punches we received when we first started this journey.

 

2.Do you have to be multi-tasking in order to deliver in full and on time?

 

Have you seen MasterChef pressure tests in which they are mixing eggs in a bowl with one hand while with the other they are melting sugar in a pan? That’s our life! One day we are designing our shared value program, defining our sustainability business case, advocating for gender quality in the workplace, developing our stakeholder engagement plan, you name it, all at the same time!

 

3.Do you frequently face various challenges and ‘mystery boxes’?

 

As in the contest, we have individual and team challenges almost every day. In some we are leading the team, in others we are team players working towards one of the company’s strategic goals. Sometimes we are expected to ‘cook up’ a project for hundreds of people within limited time or little support.

At times we are handed out ‘mystery boxes’ with ingredients or utensils that we don’t feel comfortable working with but that we have to use for the specific project (you know what I mean, right?).

Anyway and after all, we embrace those tests with grace and we strive to make the most of our efforts. That’s what makes us the crusaders we are.

 

4. Do you have to fight for ingredients from a pantry with limited supplies?

 

Every year in the planning of the corporate budget we fight for resources as agilely as the contestants run to the pantry when they hear the ‘your time starts now!’ cue. Working often with limited resources has made us learn to be creative and resilient.

Although there is still a lot of work to do, now there is certainly a better understanding at the Board and senior executives of what CSR is and that we need resources to effectively deliver bottom line benefits, just as any other productive unit in the business does.

 

5.Do you often see yourself balancing between sweetness and bitterness?

 

CSR is full of flavours, colours and textures. Who doesn’t like the sweetness of volunteering programs, cause-related marketing, CSR awards and recognitions, and all those initiatives that give us the best smiling shots for our website and sustainability reports?

But think about this, wouldn’t it be boring if all was sweet as honey? Well, that’s why sometimes we see ourselves pushing for improvement in bitter areas like ethical performance issues, environmental incompliances, not very collaborative colleagues, and you know the rest. They say that the best chefs play with different flavours and always get them well balanced.

 

6.Is your work evaluated by bold judges?

 

Are there any judges tougher than Gary, George and Matt? Yes! Our stakeholders. Internally; the Board, the senior management, our employees, etc. Externally; the government, community leaders, environmental groups, the media, you name it! We have to cater for all of them and they score us with their approval and support or with their elimination from ‘the show’.

Having innovative and truly beneficial CSR programs is a must but we shouldn’t forget that presentation is also an essential element to get our stakeholders engaged. We eat first with our eyes.

 

7.Do you encourage other peers or have you been encouraged by others?

 

What I like about this TV show is that there is a sense of comradery despite the fact it’s a competition. As in the ‘elimination challenges’, those that are on the balcony cheer up the ones competing or prompt them when their broth has boiled for too long. That’s professionalism!

Fortunately I see a lot of that in CSR. In fact, I was one of those receiving advice from more experienced peers that mentored me and cheered me up more than 10 years ago when I started in this journey, and now it feels so rewarding paying it forward with other colleagues.

 

Regardless of these similarities I think there is something that makes our CSR profession quite different; we don’t have to wait until the end of ‘the season’ to receive our prize because we get it every day! Our reward is to know that we are nurturing people’s lives, contributing to the company we work for, the people within it, and those around us. That’s what it’s all about!

If you responded ‘Yes’ to five or more of these questions you can considered yourself a CSR Master Chef!

 

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Pledge for gender parity- But what about men’s rights?

 

The commemoration of International Women’s Day brings gender equality and advocacy firmly into the spotlight. What strikes me as interesting is that, have we as a society underestimated how strategically important is it to offer the same flexible working conditions to both sexes?

 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not turning my back on the restless fight for women’s inclusion and empowerment, especially in my sector- innovation and technology- where females are incredibly underrepresented as a recent study shows.

 

Quite the opposite- but I thought I would take a look at this issue with different and strategic lens.

 

At a recent event, Cyan Ta’eed, Founder and Director at Envato, spoke about the organisation´s policy to provide the same flexible working conditions to male employees, as they do to their female counterparts. The business attributed this policy to, not only being the catalyst in being named Australia’s Coolest Tech Company, but also to helping the business advance women’s inclusion and equality in their roles.

 

Gender equality at the World CSR Congress

 

Gender equality is a global issue and a key concern for many businesses. It is also a core topic included in the Sustainable Development Goals to 2030.

 

A recent presentation that I delivered about Corporate Responsibility Megatrends at the World CSR Congress last month, indicated that global diversity, inclusion and education, sat in the hands of corporate executives. Studies indicate that the CEO and/or senior management is responsible for taking the lead in implementing gender equality initiatives –with most understanding the resulting organisational benefits.

 

In terms of gender inclusion in technology and innovation, the problem comes when trying to place women in relevant tech positions when studies show a disparity in women graduating with engineering and technology degrees.

 

As discussed and concluded by many delegates at the CSR Congress, promoting and improving STEM education for girls is more important than ever, hence the commemoration of the First International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year. However, it is also a matter of stereotyping that needs to be addressed in primary and secondary schools, as much as in the workplace.

 

But really, how gender equal do we want to be?

 

People get surprised when I tell them that the Director of DS PRIMA, the business that I work for, is a working Dad. I watch him juggle taking his young daughter to and from school, helping her with her homework, taking her to therapy, making her pancakes on demand and so on, all the while successfully managing a busy IT company.

 

Perhaps because of his own situation he understands the challenges that most working mothers face, and how important it is to provide a workplace that appreciates the role of mothers and is flexible to their needs.

 

This all makes me wonder. Can we really expect our male colleagues to understand and value our role in society, and in the workplace, if only a few of them have experienced what it feels like to be a working mum? Probably not.

 

Conversely, how can we promote male parental working conditions when their requests for flexible working hours keep getting knocked back because “part-time is traditionally only something for women”?

 

Therefore, shouldn’t it be the case if we are demanding gender parity in the workforce, that this should also include providing fathers with access to the same flexible working condition? This could potentially increase the responsibility of parenting across both parents, while allowing both parents, if they choose, to success careers.

 

Businesses should not just promote more positions for women, but for parents of either gender, and provide the means and support systems for this to happen.

 

Maybe when more male employers and business leaders experience what is like to be a working mother, gender equality will be achieved more naturally- and more quickly.

 

This article was also published in Pro Bono Australia News

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100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders At The World CSR Congress

 

I feel truly honoured and grateful to have been recognised as one of the “100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders”, together with some outstanding colleagues, at the World CSR Congress held in Mumbai, India, early this month.  The theme of the congress was “What Next?”

 

Judged by a diverse panel of global experts, this is a recognition to Corporate Social Responsibility leaders who are driven by passion & commitment towards social change.  The selection criteria included: -Strategic Perspective & Building Collaborative Relationships, -Personal Credibility, Integrity & Ethics, -Innovative Sustainable Solutions, -Incorporating Ethical Values, and -Involvement in Communities & Protection of the Environment. I feel humbled at finding myself in such amazing company.

 

I was also invited to deliver a presentation focusing on the “Corporate Responsibility Megatrends towards 2020+” with its infographic available here.

 

In addition, I was invited to chair a session in which inspiring colleagues spoke about relevant CSR topics:  -Graham Precey, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Ethics, Legal & General Group -Fredrick Royan, Vice President, Global Environment at Frost & Sullivan, and -Frank Welvaert, Director CSR EMEA – Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust.

 

Proud of my roots, I dressed in a traditional embroidered Mexican blouse and I received this award on behalf of all the amazing people and organisations I have worked with through my career to develop CSR and sustainability programs, both in Mexico and Australia.

 

As a result of this recognition, I’m making a personal pledge to promote CSR in various forums and platforms as to spread the benefits of this philosophy.

 

I want to congratulate Dr. R. L. Bhatia, Founder of the World CSR Day, and his extraordinary team for putting together such a colossal event.

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The value of ‘Shared Value’-Reflections from the World CSR Congress

 

Global summits are terrific platforms for sharing ideas and best practices with passionate, like-minded individuals. It is also an opportunity to discuss various solutions to challenges that may be affecting us all equally, wherever we are in the world.

 

I just participated in the World CSR Congress held in Mumbai, India last week, and what I appreciated the most: global reflections.

 

Besides being humbled to be listed as one of the 100 most impactful CSR leaders, I was honoured to chair a panel discussion and to deliver a presentation focused on the Corporate Responsibility Megatrends to 2020.

 

My presentation focused on the sectors of technology, innovation and health, but these trends can be well applied to any other sector. The trends that I discussed in detail focused on:

  • The rising force of Gen Z or Post-Millennials
  • How global diversity, inclusion and education are driving innovation
  • Creating shared value for shareholders and society
  • Circular economy
  • Ethical supply chains
  • Solving health issues through the Internet of things (IoT)

 

I would love to elaborate on each point, however it would take an entire book to do so. One of my points really struck a chord with the global audience and led to avid discussions, not only during the conference but also while networking with fellow colleagues; ‘Shared Value.’

 

The challenges of Shared Value

 

Given that the term was recently coined, there is not much familiarity with the concept of ‘shared value’, even though many businesses are practicing it. This lack of uniformity may be leading to misinterpretations and causing a lack of support for business case purposes.

 

There seems to be a conflict between the concepts Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Creating Shared Value (CSV). Some people refer to them as rivals; either you do CSR or you do CSV, CSV brings better outcomes than CSR, and so on. Some young practitioners are now confused and not sure of what companies are accountable for.

 

Although the benefits of CSV are evident for any kind of business, most success stories feature large multinational companies, and how they have developed new products, reengineered their supply chains or diversified their markets to solve societal issues- while also generating business opportunities. It might be perceived as a model that requires a great amount of investments and massive logistical efforts.

 

It is common to find examples of SMEs that are benefiting from CSV programs, however, there are only a few examples of SMEs actually developing shared value initiatives. This is leading to the belief that CSV is an exclusive practice for large companies, or that media and advocates choose to promote cases that involve big brands. Neither of these reasons contributes to the advancement of shared value, and to spreading the benefits of this practice.

 

The opportunities of Shared Value

 

Undoubtedly, there is great need to promote and communicate the features of CSV. It should not be hard to create more spaces in various forums to talk about its value for business, society and the environment, as well as CSV’s challenges and opportunities.

 

Some attendees concluded that the use of standards in the practice should be widely spread, as to have a common ground for global research, studies, and benchmarking purposes. However, we should not fall in the trap of misconceptions, or rivalry of concepts.

 

More SMEs that are developing shared value initiatives should be encouraged to share their stories. Advocacy platforms could multiply the CSV phenomenon if SMEs are invited to talk about their best practices in terms of closeness to the community, visibility and agility, but also to discuss about their unique challenges and the way they tackle them –this is part of what I shared with the audience when I spoke about how we do CSV at DS PRIMA.

 

The opportunities to create value for shareholders, the community and the environment are as countless as the chances to learn about and advocate for CSV. A great way to do this is participating in events organised by the Shared Value Initiative and its regional partners like Shared Value Project in Australia and Shared Value Initiative India

 

Have a look at the CSR Megatrends [Infographic] here.

 

This article was also published in Pro Bono News

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First International Day of Women and Girls in Science- Sorrow or Joy?

 

Every time there is a new International Day of this kind proclaimed I can’t help it but have mixed feelings. I feel joy, because at long last the subject is being placed in the global agenda; but at the same time I feel sorrow precisely for the very fact that it needs to be put on the spotlight in the first place. These are typically issues in which we are doing very poorly or that we have been underestimating, thus it requires us all to reconsider.

 

And this is definitely the case if you think about this figure: 2 out of 10 bachelor degrees in science-related field are earned by women (yes, only 2! that is, only 18% of graduates in those subjects).

 

Several groups and individuals have long pointed at the importance of advancing girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, it seems like gender bias has a greater impact than we think.

 

As a recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) states, from early childhood, cultural stereotypes guide our choices directing us toward certain careers. Studies suggest that girls who associate mathematics with boys and men are less likely to perceive themselves as being interested in or skilled at mathematics and spend less time studying or engaging with mathematics concepts.

 

Gender equality along with the empowerment and education of women and girls, are core issues for the United Nations, and the importance of women and girls for the economic development of the world has been stated through goals 4 -Quality Education and 5- Gender Equality of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

 

Last December, the United Nations Member States adopted a resolution to establish an annual International Day to recognise the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. The United Nations invites us all to observe the first International Day of Women and Girls in Science -11 of February through education and public awareness-raising activities, such as:

 

  • Promoting the full and equal participation of women and girls in education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences
  • Eliminate all discrimination against women, including in the field of education and employment, and overcome legal, economic, social and cultural barriers
  • Encouraging the development of science education policies and programming, including school curricula to encourage greater participation of women and girls
  • Promoting career development for women in science and recognize the achievements of women in science

 

Sorrow or joy? It doesn’t really matter after all. The important thing is that we take part on this global movement from our own fields of action and for the sake of our women and girls.

 

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Corporate Responsibility Megatrends To 2020

 

The following infographic summarizes the results of an analysis I made around the priorities that top companies have on Corporate Responsibility matters. There are 6 megatrends that are leading their path to 2020 and beyond. Learn more about each of them and find case studies at the end of this infographic.

 

CSR-Megatrends-2020

1. Generation Z

 

The Gen Z, iGen or Post-Millineas is already here! In 2020 they will be between 20 and 25 years old and they will be the new driving force in the workplace and the commercial market. Differently than their predecessors, they were born with an iPad in their hands, they are truly global, and they see CSR in a much more pragmatic way.

 

They will demand more flexible work environments and wellness programs. They will demand more ethical and sustainable products and services and are willing to pay a premium for it. They will favour companies that are “doing good” given that they are involved in social change programs since very young age themselves.

 

Case studyUN Youth Australia is an organisation that aims to educate and empower over 15,000 young Australians on global issues each year. It is run by a team of over 1,000 volunteers, all aged 16-25. They organise conferences, summits and other events, and coordinate international education tours. Their work is rooted in the belief that young people can and do make a difference in their communities. They foster ideas and innovation, and give young people the inspiration and support they need to create change.

 

2. Global diversity, inclusion and education

 

Diversity and inclusion has grown as a corporate secret to innovation, and senior executives have become devoted champions of it. According to an SHRM study, in almost half of the cases, the CEO or the senior management are responsible for leading diversity initiatives. They have realized that it really pays off.

 

In terms of gender inclusion, the problem comes when trying to place women in relevant tech positions when the studies show a shortage of women with engineering and technology degrees. Thus, STEM education for girls become a main concern in order to solve the equation.

 

Case studyApple has stated its belief in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, considering their employees’ diverse backgrounds and perspectives vital to spark innovation. In the past year they hired 65% more women than in the previous year globally, and in the US they hired 50% y 66% more black and Hispanic employees respectively. They have committed to hiring more inclusively and choosing partners who make diversity a priority.

 

3. Shared Value

 

Although it is something that companies have practiced for years, it’s thanks to Kramer and Porter, who coined the Shared Value” term, that companies are increasingly delivering initiatives that address societal or environmental problems while adding value to the business and the shareholders. In other words, a win-win for everyone!

 

Given its recent making, there are a few but splendidly executed studies published, such as the one carried out by the Shared Value Project, which demonstrates that this kind of initiatives truly contribute to the society and to bottom line results.

 

Case study Through their shared value program “Prime Technology for Our Community”, DS PRIMA has worked on a pro-bono basis with OPSMC in order to apply its software development capabilities to build a solution that will contribute to monitor patient’s health progress while allowing practitioners and clinical researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments and medications as well as to improve healthcare services. This has enabled DS PRIMA to enter the underserved market of electronic patient-reported outcomes tools in Australia through PromptusTM

 

4. Circular economy

 

Re-thinking and re-designing the way we make stuff so we go from “Cradle to Grave” to “Cradle to Cradle”, and using renewable energy is putting the most inventive minds of innovative companies to the test towards 2020. How to maximise the use of resource inputs and minimise their wastage?

 

Although electronics is not the only industry to which this model can be applied, it is certainly one of those with more opportunities. Very little e-waste is recycled and chances to reduce remanufacturing costs are countless. The key is in the product design phase, and one of the biggest challenges is to build collaboration in a way that users can return their used products so companies can recycle them.

 

Case studyRescatec is a Mexican company that helps to deploy, recover, restore, reuse, resell, donate and recycle electronic assets. They have an agreement with Microsoft and other companies to handle this waste. Between 2014-2015 a waste of nearly 50 million analogue TVs was generated in Mexico given the end of life of analogue TV, thus, the role of e-waste recycling companies increased considerably. E-waste recycling has also helped to provide low-income and disadvantaged communities with technology they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

 

5. Ethical Supply Chains

 

Supply chain plays a critical role in the performance of innovation-focused companies in order to deliver superior products and services in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner. In doing this, assurance and transparency can be challenging to achieve.

 

Customers are more aware of ethical compliance than never before. They are willing to give up on their favourite electronics and punish their manufacturers if they are not ethically behaving, however, they are also keen to reward those suppliers that are doing a good job in terms of labour conditions, environmental measures, diversity, among others.

 

Case Study– After facing ethics compliance violations before their merger, France-originated Alcatel-Lucent has adopted a strict zero tolerance policy regarding corruption and bribery. They have also applied several measures in their global supply chain operations which includes over 2,000 suppliers. Some of those are: anti-corruption screening, product traceability on conflict minerals, risk and sustainability assessment, and supplier diversity initiatives, the former one for which it was named among the Top Corporations by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

 

6. Internet of Things (IoT)

 

Although applicable to several other areas, IoT –the digitalization of our physical world, has an enormous potential to contribute to the advancement of health; one of the most noticeable problems of our modern society.

 

The opportunities to reduce costs of treatments and improve quality of life by using devices interconnected in the cloud, are as important as the challenges IoT faces to reach its full potential. Studies show that this is a market that will grow exponentially in the coming years.

 

Case StudyRoche in partnership with SAP, created a preventative care package called Accu-Chek View. This includes a blood glucose monitor, a wearable fitness tracker, and an app that are all integrated together through IoT. Patients can monitor glucose levels at home and transmit the information to the doctor’s office via the app. The doctor can monitor the patient remotely, and the patient can communicate with the doctor’s office. This eliminates unnecessary trips to the physician, saving time and money. 

 

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3 S’s to skyrocket your CSR communication effectiveness

 

Years of using the GRI and other frameworks has got us used to communicating our CSR actions in a plain numerical way. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not bad. Sustainability reporting is a tool that has a certain purpose, for a certain audience and for certain situations. However, if you want to communicate your CSR more effectively in order to continuously engage your internal and external audiences you may want to try the following 3 Ss.

 

Use the art of STORYTELLING

 

Although it is just recently that we have been hearing this concept, storytelling has been around since Aristotle’s times. If this is now the key ingredient for very successful content marketers and star salespeople, why not use it to get CSR to the hearts of our audience? I second Bernadette’s philosophy that the secret to spreading ideas relies on making people feel via storytelling.

 

Communicating your Corporate Citizenship in a narrative form could sound a bit challenging at first but think it this way, most of what we do in the CSR field (if not everything) is people oriented, either as doers or recipients. There you have the characters for the stories.

 

One of our main goals as CSR professionals is to improve peoples’ lives in various situations; in the workplace or in the community or in our supply chain. There you have the scenarios.

 

We create value for our stakeholders through our programs and projects which comprise a sequence of actions in order to deliver positive outcomes as a result. There you have the plotline; beginning, middle, and end of the story. The thing about CSR is that it is a never-ending story, so you won’t have any trouble finding the “Perpetual marketing” that they refer to in these 5 Secrets to Use Storytelling for Brand Marketing

 

Next time that you have a message to communicate about CSR, think; how can I make it into a story? Who are the characters? What do they do and what is happening around them?  What is the happy ending?

 

Here is a source of great examples and tips for inspiration on Corporate Storytelling and Your CSR Strategy

 

Make it SPECIAL

 

The story that you tell about your CSR will be crucial, however, you want to make it truly SPECIAL in order to make it more compelling. And I mean SPECIAL in capitals, bolded, in italics, underlined, multi-coloured and with shadow effect.

 

It is true that good storytelling is mostly about using powerful, emotive words and stimulating copy (check out Belinda’s mind-blowing copywriting tips here); nevertheless, to get your message through you also want to make it memorable by having your audience using as many of their senses as possible to get your message.

 

Accompany your text with captivating images. As I suggested to present your sustainability business case, try to use unique images, avoid cliché photos and remember that less is more.  Use real photos of your stakeholders as much as possible, but choose only those that are well taken –you know what I mean; good angle, lighting, timing, etc.

 

If the channel or platform allows it, you could use videos too –but keep them short, please. If you find that burdensome, make an interactive presentation with the images you have for that CSR message; it could be as simple as a Power Point or Prezi one, and try to use sound effects if possible.

 

There are heaps of ways to present messages creatively nowadays. Sit with any of your geekiest marketing or communication colleagues and ask them to unleash their creativity for this. I’m sure that if you set them the challenge and if this is all aligned to the overall business and marketing strategy, they will come up with very SPECIAL ideas for your sustainability communications.

 

Now, SOCIALISE it!

 

You probably think that what I mean is to use of social media; Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. etc. Yes, of course, but posting your SPECIAL CSR STORIES in social media and leave them adrift like a boat on the web ocean will not be enough.

 

What I mean by “socialise it” is that you involve people in the promotion of that message. For example, when you post your message in Facebook or LinkedIn, tag those that are part of the story or that appear in the picture (here is how to tag in LinkedIn posts just in case you haven’t done it before). It has a double benefit, they will feel acknowledged but also they may comment on it which means more exposure for your message.

 

I have a peer that gets tons of likes and shares in her CSR posts because every time that she posts something she sends an email or give a call to her internal CSR champion network and ask them to comment on her posts and share them in their own social network platforms. Some may think that this is cheating, but I think it is resourceful -and a great way to get colleagues actively involved.

 

When I say “socialise it” I also mean to use your traditional (non-digital) networks to communicate your CSR; when waiting for a meeting to get started, at lunch time or even while having beers after work; with the CEO and senior managers, your colleagues, your clients or your friends. People love listening to interesting and spiring stories –even more if they involve someone they know. We are the storytellers of our CSR par excellence, so don’t be shy and let’s spread the love!

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When is the best time to join the UN Global Compact?

 

I have heard that question several times, and I have heard several answers to it as well. Some people say that the best time to join the UN Global Compact depends on how well established your Corporate Sustainability strategy is, while others say that this doesn’t really matter. Some base their answer on budgeting matters while others prefer to match it with commercial milestones or even Board or senior leadership readiness.

 

If you ever wondered what would be the best time for YOUR company to join the Global Compact (or if you are already a signatory but would like to help your suppliers or partners find out the answer to that question), let me guide you through a few revealing items that will help you draw your own conclusion.

 

Are you in the first stages of the CSR or Sustainability journey?

 

Although suitable for you too if you are a company highly experienced in Sustainability, the Global Compact will be your ally if you are in the initial stages. This is because it provides you with a framework to guide your company across these four core areas: human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. You’ll have also access to tools and stacks of resources, in addition to great opportunities to network with other companies and learn from their best practices.

 

Are you looking for credentials?

 

If you already have some CSR or Sustainability programs in place and you are looking for credentials that back your genuine social responsibility commitment, you need look no further. One of the top reasons why corporates join the Global Compact (as for 79% of interviewed companies) is because they have seen increased trust in the company and investor support through this commitment.

 

Is your business or one of your programs related to any of the Sustainable Development Goals?

 

The sooner you learn about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) the better because this is what everyone will talk about the next months and years. They are 17, they were published in September, and they address the most important challenges of our time. They are wide-ranging, covering gender equality, health and well-being, water, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption, partnerships, among other issues.

 

The SDG represent the best answer to many companies’ question “What do our stakeholders expect from us?” Through your commitment to the UN Global Compact, you would be taking the first step to contribute to achieving the SDGs

 

Are Millennials increasing in your customers or workforce profile?

 

Those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s (currently 15 to 35 years old if you want to avoid doing the maths), believe that business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015. They know the challenges of their time and demand transparency and accountability, the report Impact – Transforming Business, Changing the World” says.  Global Compact signatories know that and they are strategically capitalising on it.

 

Are you still analysing your CSR budget?

 

If you envisage you may have a modest budget for your CSR strategy, this is something you’ll find like music to your ears; the cost of joining the Global Compact is as high as $0. Yes! It doesn’t cost more than the effort to have your Board and CEO convinced and willing to commit to the Ten Principles through a Letter of Commitment, and then to produce your Communication on Progress Reports annually.

 

“There is nothing free in this world” you may say, and it is also true about this. You should consider the cost of time and resources you’ll have to put on the implementation of your commitments. You may also want to consider that companies are encouraged to make a voluntary financial contribution to the UN Global Compact headquarters in NY and that, additionally, you have the opportunity join the Global Compact Network Australia (the wisest thing to do as you can listen here) through a membership fee. Both contributions depend on the size of your business.

 

However, if you think of this as an investment – which it actually is – led by a good internal CSR/Sustainability innovator and the collaboration of your managers and staff, you will get significant tipple bottom line results.

 

After reading these lines, when do you think is the best time for YOUR business to join the Global Compact? If your answer is TODAY, I think you are absolutely right! Start you application here.

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