I began building a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program five years ago at Riskified. What began as an opportunity to give back to the communities where our employees live, and work has grown into a robust program recently rebranded as Riskified Cares. This blog will outline the many positive impacts of a CSR program on business and employee engagement and what I have learned along the way that may help you build your own CSR program.
Start somewhere, and it’s ok to start small
Riskified’s CEO, Eido Gal, wanted to give back to the communities where we live and work by creating the CSR program, and I was tasked to create it. We began with creating volunteer opportunities and committed to allowing employees to volunteer on company time. We surveyed to understand what sorts of volunteering opportunities would interest the employees. Still, the first few years were like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what would stick: What would people volunteer for? And what would they come back for? In time, I created four categories for volunteering projects which encompassed the diverse group of opportunities I was seeing:
- Employee Driven
These categories have been a helpful guide for me when prioritizing which of the many projects offered to us we can take on. Sometimes projects touch on two, three, or even all four areas, and that’s great! I make sure all are well represented.
Employee-led volunteering is the best volunteering
Surveys are great when people answer them, but the best kind of volunteer projects are the ones that come directly from our employees. When they come to me with a project idea or nonprofit they want to work with, I know they are committed to volunteering, and they will get their work friends and teams on board. These projects take more time and effort to plan, but the impact on the employees and the populations we work with is undeniable.
Quantitative KPIs are great, but so are qualitative KPIs
Numbers are everything in the corporate world, but sometimes the impact of a CSR program can not be expressed in numbers. While I track quantitative statistics like volunteer hours, who volunteers, and the people our volunteering impacts, it’s the personal testimonials from the nonprofits and our volunteers that speak to our programs’ success. To keep track of this qualitative and meaningful feedback, I take screenshots when my colleagues reach out to thank me or compliment the CSR program, and I keep these screenshots handy in a folder on my laptop. I pull these out when I am creating a quarterly report or year-end review, and they help to reaffirm the work I am doing.
Find or create your CSR community
Seek out other CSR managers for networking. Networking will enable you to check in about nonprofits where you may want to start partnering and will help you discover new grassroots nonprofits. Learn from the challenges and successes of your peers, and share your journey to help them as well. And when it makes sense, you can collaborate with other companies to do good in your communities. For example, Riskified has partnered with Guesty, a property management software company, to create a mentoring program for neurodiverse people who want to work in tech. By partnering, we reached more mentees and created a bigger impact.
A CSR Program is not just about volunteering
There are a lot of components to CSR, and at Riskified, the program started as an employee volunteer initiative to create greater engagement and motivation and thus increase employee retention. But over the years, the Riskified Cares brand has grown to include Diversity, Equity, Inclusion planning (DEI), and Sustainability. We’ve seen that CSR/Sustainability/DEI-related questions come up on RFPs, and when this is the case, I can support the Sales team. I have also begun to explore Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies (i.e., non-financial reporting) with Legal, IR, HR, and Finance. The program will continue to grow and evolve as the company evolves, and I’m very excited to see what the future holds for Riskified Cares.
Riskified Cares started by offering volunteer opportunities and learning what resonated with our employees, positively impacting our communities and beyond. The program evolved to encompass employee-led projects and diverse CSR initiatives beyond volunteering. Moreover, CSR initiatives have created a competitive edge for companies, as consumers and stakeholders increasingly value businesses that prioritize social and environmental responsibility. So, start somewhere! Engage your employees and build a CSR community for greater impact. Taking that first step will lead to a transformative and rewarding experience for your employees and your company!