Around the holidays, "giving back" becomes a sort of business mantra. This heightened awareness around corporate social responsibility is wonderful, but it doesn't have to be relegated to a few weeks a year. Ideally, it can be a winning model for how businesses operate year-round.
Consumers and employees alike support this approach: Among millennials:
- 91 percent prefer brands with a cause
- 62 percent would take less pay to work for a responsible company
At Microsoft, we've been privileged to partner with (and support) companies with a strong sense of altruism. In fact, two of our partners - Synergy Technical and Pickit - embody how to make corporate social responsibility part of their brand mission.
Make the World Better - Together
Founded in 2011, Synergy Technical is a "born in the cloud" organization whose motto is "We don't sell products - We solve problems." According to CEO Rohana Meade, Synergy's staff is most energized when tasked with a project that makes a difference in the world.
For example, the company's first customer was a small nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism. Synergy worked to help implement Office 365 and resolve a host of problems, including:
- Expense reduction
- Disaster recovery
- More effective communication for a distributed workforce
Several years later, Rohana met a woman at a networking event who'd adopted a child with special needs through that nonprofit, and she felt a sense of pride that Synergy's work had played a part. Rohana has observed and learned first hand just what a powerful force a shared mission around giving back to the community can become for an organization. It's especially motivating for employees to watch the organizations they help grow and give back in their own ways.
"Nothing builds a cohesive team more than a shared mission that empowers people to give back to their community..."
-Rohana Meade, CEO of Synergy
Empower Artists, Teachers, and Students
Like Synergy, Pickit - a Swedish company co-founded by Mathias Bjorkholm and Henrik Bergqvist - used the Microsoft Office Suite to solve a marketplace problem and create its image-based tech products in the spirit of social responsibility.
Most people get images through search engines like Google or Bing, often unaware that such images are copyrighted. So, Pickit collaborates with a global network of photographers and small image banks to offer Microsoft Office users legal access to cleared images and curated collections. Pickit makes sure to rewards photographers with 60 percent of all profits for their work. Best of all, through Pickit Edu, Pickit's image cache is always free for students and teachers, as Mathias believes they should have open access to a safe and creative image environment.
Inspire the Give-Back Spirit in Your Organization
To generate ideas and inspire generosity, ask your staff how your organization can give back to your community. They can then vote on the cause and budget for an investment - whether in time, cash, discounts, or something more abstract. At Synergy, for example, some employees give up vacation hours to build technical solutions for charitable organizations. Pickit's investment is more conceptual, as the company works to impact the way people use images by attracting team players and forward-thinkers eager to find new solutions.
Regardless of how you embrace corporate social responsibility, jump-starting your organization's sense of purpose and driving your team toward making a real difference profits your employees, your company, and the world.