Confessions of a CSR Professional: 5 Ways to Mold the Conscience of a Company

Campbell Soup Company is a leader in corporate responsibility. Learn more from their Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Megan Maltenfort below and engage directly with her at the 2017 Net Impact Conference, October 26-28 in Atlanta, GA. 
 
Whether you’re working at a company just starting this journey or one that already identifies as purpose driven, these recommendations will hold true. They guided me for over 5 years in building a global sustainability program at VWR and allowed me to hit the ground running in my new role with Campbell Soup Company who has been a recognized sustainability leader for nearly a decade. 

1. Get Your Leaders to Listen

Easy to say but hard to do! The easiest way to get your leaders to listen is to tie it all back to the customer. Leadership wants to meet customer demands, and if customers care about sustainability, then you will begin to see your leaders care about it too. Once your leadership understands the value of sustainability practices, they will begin to incorporate this thinking more in their day-to-day. If you’re looking for more formal techniques to embed accountability, think about building sustainability into your corporate agenda/strategy; expanding your incentive plan to include sustainability goals and reporting sustainability progress to the board.

2. Help employees feel accountable

Guilt is not the answer when trying to change mentality and behavior. You will be more effective if you educate and engage. Your colleagues want to feel good about the company they work for and what they do every day. It’s your job to educate them on why this all matters and how they can help, and then provide opportunities to get engaged. And not just for Earth Day- all year long. This will help elevate transactional behaviors to true collaboration with impact.  We know you’re passionate about sustainability, now use that passion to spread awareness and watch your culture shift.  

3. Be politely annoying

It’s okay, you can give yourself permission to be politely annoying. You need to get stuff done, and in a large organization, you will find that getting stuff done takes a long time. Sustainability may be your priority, but that’s likely not the case for many others in your organization, so you must keep (politely) pushing to get your ideas approved and implemented. If you’re having trouble getting a colleague to support you, try scheduling a phone call or in-person meeting. Making these more personal connections goes a long way in building allies within the organization. 

4. Partner with everyone

As a CSR professional, you will work with more people within your organization than most. You likely don’t have a big team (or any team at all), so you must build your own internal team of supporters. In my first two months with Campbell, I needed to complete our annual Corporate Responsibility Report, DJSI and CDP, and the only way to do this was to quickly find partners throughout the company who had the information I needed, and then politely annoy them for it! You’ll need partners in communications, finance, operations, human resources, supply chain, etc.- basically building a web around your organization where sustainability practices can stick. These partners will help champion these practices throughout the organization. By becoming an extension of different teams, you also use your sustainability knowledge to add value to their work, proving that sustainability has a place in the corporate conscience. 

5. Give the credit away

You don’t need it. Remember, you’re trying to mold the conscience of a company! You will only succeed if you allow others to gain recognition for sustainability efforts, rather than take the credit yourself. The more that others feel like they “own it,” the more embedded sustainability will become. The end goal is to have every employee consider themselves a sustainability champion.
 
Hear more from Megan Maltenfort at the 2017 Net Impact Conference where she will be speaking on the panel, Finding Purpose within Corporate Impact.  Learn more about how Campbell Soup Company is driving corporate impact from the Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Dave Stangis during the panel, How to Create Purpose-Driven Brands. 

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Megan Maltenfort for the Campbell Soup Company Team