“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast:” How to Infuse a Flavor of Philanthropy into your Company Culture

With May flowers on the way to brighten our spirits, we’re busy dreaming of ways to put an extra spring into our company culture, and what better way to do this than through philanthropy!

First, let’s talk about why it’s important for you to focus your efforts on revitalizing culture, and then we’ll cover how a great CSR program can help. So, why focus on culture? The answer: bottom line growth.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

Professor James Heskett of the Harvard Business School and John Kotter, chairman of Kotter International, provide substantial data to verify this hypothesis. They evaluated 207 large US companies in 22 different industries over an 11-year period and determined:

1. Companies that managed their cultures saw revenue increases of 682% versus increases of 166% of companies that did not manage their cultures.

2. Stock prices increased 901% in companies that managed their cultures versus only 74% for the companies that did not manage their cultures.

3. Companies that managed their cultures saw net income increases of 756% versus 1%.

The results are in, and they clearly indicate that a focus on culture can provide for an increase in overall profits.

If we want to enhance the current culture of our organization and take advantage of this profit potential, it is vital that we focus on the person. Each individual within our company comes from varying backgrounds and possesses a variety of skillsets; these individuals drive the organization as a whole. If all employees are driven, happy, effective, innovative, and creative, then profit goals will be met, and dare we say- exceeded.

Company Culture and Philanthropy

The esteemed CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, reflects upon the importance of each individual, “In any company, you have to go back to what drives people. Brands with a purpose and that are values-led over time are going to be by definition more successful.”

Focusing on philanthropy and CSR provides for a more holistic culture that engages each employee while also impacting the bottom line.

If you’re hoping to incorporate a philanthropic component to your culture, here are three tips to build your give back culture.

1. Incorporate CSR with your Business Model

Think about your current business model (do you sell software, consumer goods, or high-end apparel?) Developing philanthropic programs which match your current business model and future goals will have a greater impact. If you are a soap manufacturer, consider partnering with a non-profit whose mission revolves around improving hygiene in third-world countries.

2. Work with other Departments to Develop Holistic Campaigns

The more integrated your philanthropic programs, the greater possibility for sustainable impact. Work with your colleagues in supply chain or diversity and inclusion to develop broad-reaching programs that extend across multiple departments.

3. And most importantly… involve employees in the process!

At the center of your company and culture lie your employees. Utilize surveys and internal social networking tools to determine your employees’ philanthropic passions. There’s nothing like knowing that your colleagues care just as much about animal rights or women’s issues as you do.

No matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a growing SME, instilling a level of philanthropy will provide for a more holistic company culture in which employees will feel valued and empowered to share their philanthropic story. Now let’s get those good works going!