CSR initiatives enhance reputation, attract and retain talent and strengthen customer relationships
2023 will be a test for businesses' corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles, reports Harvard Business Review (HBR). The key question will be whether companies can uphold their CSR commitments and investments during an economic downturn: are they “deeply ingrained values,” asks HBR, “or in fact only hobbies to be enjoyed in economic fair weather”? Here, Anna Collins, Vice President, People and Culture at Ovarro, explains how better ROI reporting, employee programs and technology offerings can combine for better CSR initiatives.
While CEOs have made notable progress in connecting environmental, social and governance (ESG) with profitability in recent years, a recent KPMG survey cited by HBR reveals a significant discrepancy. While 70 percent of US CEOs recognise the positive impact of ESG on financial performance, 59 percent expressed plans to pause or reassess their ESG endeavours depending on how global economic circumstances pan out.
HBR's report concludes that the outcome will reveal the true nature of CSR and ESG initiatives, testing whether they are deeply ingrained values or simply peripheral interest’s dependent on economic conditions.
As we move into the latter half of 2023, several economic factors will continue to exert influence over CSR practices such as purchasing decisions, employee satisfaction and more. Companies are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate the tangible benefits of their CSR initiatives to justify and secure budgets.
In this context, the availability of comprehensive, transparent and authentic ROI data will be crucial in convincing stakeholders of the value of CSR. Ovarro supplies connecting technologies including monitoring and control hardware like data loggers plus software and analytics, and also provides managed services. Based on this expertise, the company has implemented robust measurement systems to track its own progress. By quantifying and sharing their social impact, companies like Ovarro can inspire trust and attract stakeholders who align with its own CSR values.
People are another crucial aspect of CSR. A survey conducted by the nonprofit Net Impact, as reported by Forbes, revealed that 53 percent of workers consider having a job where they can make an impact essential for their happiness. Among students about to enter the workforce, 72 percent shared the same sentiment. Additionally, many individuals are willing to accept lower salaries to fulfil this goal.
Employees are increasingly seeking meaningful work and ways to contribute to societal causes in their current roles. This practice, known as job purposing, can complicate social impact efforts but also enhance them. By fostering purpose-driven work, companies create inclusive workplaces and align their CSR and ESG efforts with diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) objectives.
To this end, Ovarro offers its employees volunteering time and actively encourages them to participate in employee volunteering programs, promoting a culture of giving back and strengthening its commitment to CSR.
To create a strong company culture around its CSR practices, Ovarro has introduced the organisation-wide purpose, “Connecting technologies today for a more sustainable tomorrow.” These technologies include its remote telemetry systems, which can contribute towards a more sustainable future in a variety of ways including by helping to identify leaks and conserving valuable resources in the water sector. Ovarro's technologies, which also include SCADA systems and cloud analytics, can play a vital role in monitoring renewable energy infrastructure, and networks in oil and gas, rail, and other sectors, aligning with their vision of a greener and more sustainable world.
One notable example of Ovarro's CSR initiatives is its support of Water Aid, specifically the Beacon Project, a collaboration between Anglian Water and its supply chain partners, WaterAid and the Nepal Water Supply Corporation, to enhance water supplies in Lahan, south-eastern Nepal. Ovarro also engages in in community activities, such as local litter picking and cleaning up railways.
Ovarro is also determined to become carbon neutral by 2030. Part of this includes embracing hybrid working practices to reduce the need for extensive travel and optimise facilities for sustainable operations. The company recognises the significance of employee well-being and work-life balance, and has implemented hybrid working to balance sustainability with the benefits of in-person collaboration. This includes reducing travel through remote communication, electric car and cycle to work schemes, and encouraging train travel instead of flying where possible.
Ovarro's CSR initiatives extend beyond its internal operations. There are the company employees’ aforementioned volunteering time, charity support and engagement with educational institutions as STEM ambassadors.
The STEM ambassadors program allows employees to share their expertise and inspire the next generation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By investing in early careers through graduate student placement schemes and apprenticeships, Ovarro nurtures talent and supports the development of future industry leaders.
These efforts showcase Ovarro's commitment to making a positive impact beyond its immediate business operations. The initiatives also benefit the organisation economically by enhancing its reputation, attracting and retaining talent, strengthening customer relationships and driving innovation and efficiency in operations. CSR and ESG principles must be deeply ingrained values, rather than mere hobbies, for the sake of people, the planet and profit.
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