Embedding Corporate Responsibility can be difficult on several levels; it is hard to understand exactly what your responsibilities are, as well as create a relevant identity and engage stakeholders while aligning operations internally. Communication is key, as understanding company values and responsibilities can enhance reputation. To keep customer loyalty and maintain your reputation, it is crucial to not undermine the importance of values and goodwill. Intangible assets like goodwill are more valuable than ever. Customers, investors, regulators and employees often make decisions based on their subjective understanding of an organisation, which is often formed by interactions with employees.
A collective understanding of the company value system is needed in order for employees to feel confident in sending out clear and concise messages. Research shows that employees are impacted by both internal organisational identity and external reputation. A positively perceived organisational identity is attractive to staff and encourages motivation and commitment as well as reinforcing the internal identity.
Research also shows that employees place great importance on fair CR practices that are justly implemented across the board. Consistent treatment of all employees and consideration of their opinion are two very important aspects of CR practice that need to be respected. Staff need to be motivated by a proactive communication of the targets, responsibilities and results of CR.
CR is unique to each company, as it should indicate not only the set of values but also the mutual benefits and inappropriate attitudes/behaviour. All this can vary. The role of the company should become clear to the employees, thus helping them to fully understand their own role and making work an opportunity to develop and improve. In creating value, you can build on the innate desire of most people to improve their performance to generate real rewards and recognition.
For internal communications to function properly four things are needed:
1. Demonstration of how chosen values will bring success (outline positive outcomes).
2. Demonstration of values in action.
3. Making people feel that they have license to change and challenge the status quo.
4. Publicise examples from different places within the organisation.
CR should create an inexhaustible stream of stories which celebrate the success of the organisations values in action, maintaining credibility and reputation. We have found the best way to do this is to have an effective network of formal and informal communicators which are embedded in different areas of the organisation.
Petrom is the largest company is Romania which employs over 30,000 people and has been producing oil for over 150 years. As an energy company, Petrom is keen to demonstrate its concern for the environment, for its Romanian roots and modern European society. It aims to become a role model for change. Petrom introduced a community investment programme which was named ‘respect for the future’ and focused on local communities and education, featuring a TV commercial, school theatre road show and camps for children during summer holidays. The ad talks about current generations’ responsibility to save resources for future generations, linking the company’s intention to contribute towards sustainability (company values) and its responsibility as an oil company (CR). A key element to the programme was ‘parks for the future’ where Petrom ran a competition in five cities for young architects to renovate a city park. The local community selected the winner. Meanwhile, an internal campaign called ‘the best in us’ sought out examples of values in action, which invited people to nominate colleagues/teams which embodied the spirit of the new values, to be celebrated annually.
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