Burt’s Bees. Microsoft. Ben & Jerry’s. PNC Bank. While each of these companies offer completely different products, they share a similar characteristic—their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs have a singular focus. They are transparent about their strategy and inspire their employees, partners and customers to rally together behind their objective. Although the specifics of CSR programs depend on the organization, it’s important to recognize the common qualities of top-performing programs like these.
The biggest question is: What are you trying to change? Over the past year, this question was top of mind for Bozzuto as we took a critical look at our own CSR program.
What Is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility is not a trend—it’s an integral business practice within organizations that’s here to stay. But what exactly is it? CSR is versatile in its definition and can be molded into different forms depending on a few factors, such as the company’s public or private status, industry and product or service offering. At its broadest definition, CSR consists of all the “things” a company does to make a positive impact on society at an economic, social and environmental level.
Take a second and think about your favorite brand. Maybe they use recycled textiles, have a buy-one-give-one model or strive to have a zero-waste supply chain. There is a high chance they’re doing something to show they’re socially responsible. Ten years ago, business practices like this weren’t standard, but today, companies without CSR programs are seen as abnormal. Even influential institutional companies like Blackrock and Vanguard are vocalizing CSR’s influence on their investment strategies.
This summer, over 180 CEOs of the world’s largest companies (think American Express, Amazon and Apple) gathered at the Business Roundtable and issued a joint statement urging business leaders to redefine their companies’ purposes. Business Roundtable member and President and CEO of Progressive Corporation Tricia Griffith asserted “CEOs work to generate profits and return value to shareholders, but the best-run companies do more. They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.”
As we thought about Bozzuto’s role in the world and how we want to build long-term value, our CSR positioning became clear: We want our collective impact to change the face of homelessness and housing in our communities.
So, where do we go from here?
Redefining CSR at Bozzuto
During our exploration, we meaningfully assessed CSR at Bozzuto and within the real estate industry. While we were easily reminded of the amazing charitable work of our employees—from volunteer outings to philanthropic campaigns—we realized Bozzuto Cares, our previous charitable platform, needed a refresh if we wanted to be serious about CSR. We also found a huge opportunity: Few companies in the real estate industry are packaging their CSR efforts within a cohesive, focused program that harnesses the collective impact of all their employees, residents and partners. Why does this matter? A company’s CSR program speaks to who the company is, what it believes in and how it does business. According to Glassdoor, 75% of employees between the age of 18-34 expect their employer to take a stand on important social issues—they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Plus, studies show engaged employees have lower turnover rates. A CSR program fulfills this expectation and engagement by providing employees with the platform and tools to advocate for a particular issue. By providing clear direction and cohesive tools to make a real impact on homelessness and housing, we will be able to voice our action.
A New Program Rises
Guiding our CSR efforts towards a specific issue will allow us to effect change and make a positive on people’s lives. That’s why we’re taking our CSR program to the next level with Rise by Bozzuto, our strategically redesigned CSR program that takes the place of Bozzuto Cares.
Communities rise to support their members. People rise to meet challenges. Rise by Bozzuto unites Bozzuto stakeholders—employees, residents, partners and clients—around a distinct CSR strategy unlike any other within our industry, allowing us to make an impact like never before.
Bozzuto Corporate Social Responsibility and Communications Manager Kirkland Locey explained, “Our team members and communities are always looking for ways to give back and contribute to the world around them. Now we have one centralized purpose as a company and together we can rise to the challenge of impacting homelessness.”
What’s Our Focus?
You, our employees, helped us identify the pillars of this renewed CSR program. Our CSR team felt naming the issue of homelessness and housing as the heart of Rise by Bozzuto aligned well with who we are as a company, but wanted to ensure you agreed. In a company-wide survey, we found nearly three quarters of employee respondents chose homelessness and housing as the top cause they thought Bozzuto should care about most.
Creating sanctuary is at the heart of everything we do. Rise by Bozzuto is no different, with a core that revolves around making a positive impact through addressing the issue of homelessness and housing.
Since social and environmental needs and youth development were the second and third top causes you cared about most, we’ve named them Rise by Bozzuto’s supporting pillars. These issues are the guiding principles of our charitable CSR efforts, and from now on, we’ll bring you programming aligned with this exciting and meaningful new focus.
While Rise by Bozzuto is heavily programmed with volunteer and philanthropic efforts revolving around these pillars, it will continue to grow and encompass initiatives found throughout the company that contribute to a triple bottom line, such as:
- Employee engagement
- Diversity and inclusion
- Corporate charitable giving
Think of it this way—CSR includes all the “feel good” components of a company. It’s all the pieces that come together and make you proud of your company’s vision, mission and culture.
Taking Our Impact to New Heights
To help produce tangible CSR results, we have partnered with America’s Charities, an organization that has been a leader in the realm of employee giving, engagement and social impact for the past 40 years. With a vision to be “a major force in transforming and growing philanthropy,” America’s Charities provides Bozzuto with resources that will empower our employees to rise together, including our charitable technology platform powered by Causecast.
We found that a lot of companies have added the word “cares” to the end of their CSR programs; of course, everyone “cares.” With this renewed brand and focus for our program, we differentiate ourselves within the real estate industry and beyond. Rise by Bozzuto provides us with a platform to focus our efforts and resources on a cause that Bozzuto employees specifically chose. By supporting the cause of homelessness and housing, together we will enact our mission to create sanctuary for those that truly need it. Together, we will rise to make a tangible impact in our local communities.Learn more about Rise by Bozzuto