Creating a successful strategygoes beyond simply deploying employees as volunteers.

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When it comes to building a corporate responsibility program, ensuring thatit is purpose-driven is key to its ultimate success. At EY, we'velearned through personal experience that creating meaningful CRprograms means more than just providing service opportunities. It means investing inaddressing social inequities, barriers to economic growth and othervexing societal challenges we see every day. Through corporateresponsibility programs, people can engage with their communitiesas forces for good. This includes things such as mentoring studentsin underserved schools, teaching entrepreneurial skills at home andabroad, and volunteering on nonprofit boards.

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Creating a successful strategy goes beyond simply deployingemployees as volunteers. To run an effective CR program, itis important to tie efforts to a larger business purpose. At EY,this means tying the program back to building a better workingworld. We've learned that aligning a CR program with a company'svisions and goals creates long-term benefits for employees,businesses and society at large.

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Related: Millennials want to see corporate responsibilityfrom employers

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Ready to establish a purpose-driven CR strategy that willsupercharge your business and build a better working world? Here'sa four-part road map to steer your course:

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1. Understand the tone from the top

Dig deep with your leadership to gauge their commitment. Whatare their top societal, brand and business objectives? Strive tounderstand their interest in the business case for corporateresponsibility, from employee relations to communityengagement.

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2. Build a strategy that leverages your company's sweetspot

You create the greatest societal impact when you work within thesweet spot: that place where business strategy, organizationalcompetencies and societal needs intersect. Identify your uniquefocus areas to maximize your impact — while addressing issues thatyour people and clients care about. At EY, we target our CR effortson supporting entrepreneurs, education and equity in theworkforce.

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3. Measure investment and progress

Like any company investment, CR programs must includemeasurements and assessments that paint a picture of the returncompared with established societal, brand and business impact goalsand outcomes.

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For example, we track employee retention, engagement andperformance related to participation in volunteer programs becauseattracting and retaining top talent are key business goals of ourCR program.

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4. Communicate goals internally and externally

Create an aggressive plan to share your program's strategy andsuccess stories internally and externally. You'll energize youremployees, strengthen your brand and reinforce the connection toyour business objectives — all of which will drive thesustainability and social impact of your program.

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Benefits of a strong CR strategy

When businesses leverage their core competencies to help solveour communities' most pressing challenges, we can make the mostpowerful impact. This creates shared value and drives inclusivegrowth that benefits everyone, such as developing moreopportunities for young people, creating more jobs and improvingthe quality of life for all.

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More good news: the benefits of a purpose-driven CR strategy gobeyond the people and causes you serve. Done right, an effective CRprogram also:

  • Engages your workforce: Our employee surveysshow that our people who participate in skills-based volunteeropportunities are more engaged with their member firms. Thisincludes better relationships with their managers, longer tenure,reduced turnover and higher performance ratings.
  • Attracts the best: Campus candidates reportthat a well-executed corporate responsibility program reflects theauthentic activation of a company's purpose. For Millennials andGen Z, a purpose-driven organization is a major factor whenchoosing an employer.
  • Develops careers: EY people report thatinvolvement in firm-sponsored, skills-based volunteer activitiesdevelops critical business skills that lead to professional growthopportunities and stronger client relationships. Volunteering alsodevelops greater self-confidence; executive presence and leadershipeffectiveness; stronger mentoring, coaching and inclusivenessskills; and expanded internal and external networks.
  • Grows your business: Professionalsengaged in strategic volunteer experiences report best-in-classemployee engagement, which impacts your bottom line. For example,EY teams with top levels of engagement have higher gross margins,revenue growth and retention. Research also shows that embeddingpurpose into the core business model will drive innovation andgrowth.

Keep these proven benefits in mind as you start or speed up yourorganization's CR journey. With a strategic program in place, yourbusiness can propel the social good while boosting the bottomline.


Deborah K. Holmes is EY Americas'corporate responsibility leader.

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