Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

What is Corporate Social Responsibility—and Why Does it Matter?

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is likely something that your bank or credit union has started to address internally, as it has become an essential component of successful businesses. Discussions of diversity, equity, inclusion, and philanthropy dominate the majority of board planning sessions. We interviewed Newcleus’ Director of Corporate Affairs and CSR, Debra Porter to learn some essential tips when implementing CSR into your business. 

If your bank or credit union is interested in where the rest of society rests regarding CSR, here are statistics on how important CSR initiatives are to the people you serve.

  • More than half of Americans believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on key social, environmental, and political issues.
  • 70% of Americans believe it’s “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place.
  • “Many Americans claim ‘zero tolerance’ when it comes to infractions of ethical corporate codes,” including 25% of consumers and 22% of investors.
  • Lastly, according to the ECDC, 93% of CEOs insist that sustainability is the key to success.

Creating Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines and a roadmap for future initiatives is time-consuming and requires proper due diligence. It is important that you evaluate and align the values of your team, your organization, and your customers. The cohesion of these priorities will serve as the basis of your CSR program.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is the impact an organization makes on society, the environment, and the economy.

At Newcleus, they believe that quality, thoughtful CSR initiatives:

  • Drive employee engagement
  • Build brand equity
  • Achieve positive change

To engage in CSR means that, in the ordinary course of business, a company is operating in environmentally and socially conscious ways. It is “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public,” according to Investopedia.

“CSR can orient a company’s purpose and vision, while also driving credibility and team morale skyward,” says Debra Porter, Director of Corporate Affairs and CSR at Newcleus.

Debra Porter

Pictured above is Debra Porter, Director of Corporate Affairs and CSR at Newcleus HQ in Newtown, PA.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The Four Pillars of CSR

Volunteering: Participate in local causes or volunteer time (and staff’s time) in community events.

Philanthropy: Practice social responsibility, donate money, products, or services to social causes and nonprofits.

Environmental Efforts: Reduce company footprint- considered good for both the company and society.

Ethical Labor Practices: Fair and ethical treatment of employees. (Especially true of businesses that operate in international locations with labor laws that differ from those in the U.S.)

What Does CSR Look Like in Action?

  • Charitable giving/donating to charities
  • Promoting volunteerism among employees
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments
  • Company policies that insist on working with partners who follow ethical business practices. Eg. “Vendor Code of Conduct and Policies”

What CSR Looks Like at Newcleus

When designing our CSR program I ask myself, “Who are we as a company? And that answer must come from within, which is why I decided to conduct 26 hours of team interviews to truly capture who Newcleus is from the people who power our company,” says Debra Porter. “The heartbeat of an organization is often reflective of the CSR programs it puts in place for employees.  It can help teams and companies achieve greatness. When poorly managed or delivered from the “top-down” it can blow up in unexpected ways.”

Our internal interviews revealed that the Newcleus Team deeply cares about our local communities, which is why we’ve created a CSR program called NewcleusGives to reflect our passion for philanthropy and assist our partners in creating impactful CSR programs of their own. Through this initiative, we have developed opportunities for team volunteer time, a workplace giving program as well as a gift matching program. 

“While CSR programs are often modeled after philanthropy, we used our program to reward our team internally. Our employees work incredibly hard every day to support our clients, and they deserve the recognition that their job is not easy. We wanted to be able to give back to our team with this program. It is important to keep in mind that CSR can nourish minds, give strength, and support health goodness.”

Here are some of Newcleus’ philanthropic and mental health benefits developed within their CSR program:

Volunteer Time

Newcleus encourages volunteering and team bonding to boost employee morale, improve the workplace atmosphere, and support the social fabric of the communities in which we operate and brand perception.

Our employees have the opportunity to volunteer as a team four times a year, 32 hours of volunteer time (during business hours) at organizations that are important to them. In addition, employees can volunteer independently at an organization of their choice, upon approval from their manager. This includes schools or nonprofits in their own philanthropic interest areas.

Employees are encouraged to volunteer during the workday and provide support to many of its sponsored volunteer activities.

Team Park Clean

We wanted a way to combine our team’s passion for volunteering and exercise so we organized a monthly park walk/clean-up.

Charitable Giving

To assist employees’ charitable giving and augment the impact of their charitable dollars, Newcleus has instituted a Workplace Giving and Matching Gift Program.

The Workplace Giving Program enables Newcleus employees to make charitable contributions through payroll deduction. The Matching Gift Program matches these payroll deductions and other individual gifts up to a certain amount per employee per year.

Team Walk

Once a week, our team will have the opportunity to walk together around Newtown. 

In-Office Stretching

We offer stretching classes led by a personal trainer once a week to encourage employees to stand up from their desks and take a break from their computers. The trainer will focus on neck and back strength, addressing the challenges of desk work.

Team Meditation and Stretching

Newcleus is developing a team health program. We host classes led by local experts in strength training, yoga/stretch, and meditation throughout the year.

Why Should I Care About CSR?

Debra Porter’s 20-year experience in CSR has given her true insight into the effectiveness of a powerful CSR program. She says, “CSR gives brands a moral compass to inform today and tomorrow. It can be a stabilizing structure for brands, and when done well, CSR becomes a beacon.” 

Daniel Barbaree, President and CEO of Newcleus, also recognizes the importance of CSR today. “We’re community bankers,” says Barbaree. “We want to grow with the communities that we support. There are a lot of social topics going on in the world today, and Newcleus wants to be front and center.”

“We want to be educated and supportive… We want to dedicate ourselves to these social responsibilities, to the corporate growth model, [and to] charitable events… Newcleus isn’t going to be just a stiff financial company, it’s also going to be a socially reliable and aware company. We want to continue to grow.”

Community Impact

CSR programs add business value impacting communities. CSR programs enable businesses to benefit society while boosting brands, and can even help a business financially. For example, using less packaging and less energy can reduce production costs.

Additionally, Newcleus CSR programs enable their team to help their communities by volunteering via philanthropic support. When using a product or buying a service from a socially responsible company, consumers feel they are doing their part.

Together, we have the potential to impact significant world issues such as hunger, health, and global warming.

Employee Retention

Employees and customers place a premium on working for and spending their money with businesses that prioritize CSR.

As Debra Porter says, ”CSR offers work fulfillment to teams. People expect to share in the decision making of the CSR programming and they take pride in playing a role to raise industry standards.”

When a CSR program is designed well, it has the power to fairly and accurately represent the values of your company’s employees. When employees feel like they are represented in the workplace, they are more likely to enjoy work and therefore, remain loyal to their employer. 

Team Building

Activities can help forge a stronger bond between employees and corporations. Activities that promote team building through your CSR strategy boost morale and help employees by providing key learning opportunities.

Employees, in turn, feel more connected with the world around them.

The Final Word on CSR

According to PwC, 70% of CEOs state that CSR is essential to the profitability of companies.

There are so many inspiring examples of CSR programs in corporate America that Newcleus looks to. For example, TOMS. The shoe company’s mission is to donate a pair of shoes for every pair they sell, which has resulted in the donation of over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Johnson & Johnson has focused on reducing its impact on the planet for three decades.

Google’s data center now uses 50% less energy than others in the world and has committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects which enables other businesses to reduce their environmental impact through services such as Gmail.

At Newcleus, they’re here to support you and your CSR efforts, including how to make sustainability a central goal at your bank or credit union.

Contact Debra Porter, Director of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility at Newcleus, to learn more about how to implement CSR, from the inside out.