The how and why of corporate social responsibility & volunteering

If no one were around to see an act of kindness, would you still behave as a hero?

This is a terrific question a company must ask itself about participating in corporate social responsibility. Quickly, a company will benefit by answering “yes.” Most studies show that people do business with people they like, and most people like people who do things for others. So fundamentally CSR is best for your bottom line and driving revenue.

As a business development professional, I have a focus and drive to be a change agent and thus grow revenue. I am hyper-focused on giving back to our community and world. The No. 1 reason for “giving back” should be because it is the right thing to do. Helping an individual or an organization by providing time, talent, and/or monetary contributions comes from the heart, first and foremost.

It is second nature to American businesspeople to help others. Lending support, whether it involves sitting on the board of a charitable organization, writing a check each month to a favorite cause or putting your sweat and muscle toward a worthy physical project, is the successful entrepreneur’s way of sharing his or her wealth with others. Such altruistic endeavors have helped to build hospitals, educate underprivileged children, and ensure that the less fortunate get the nourishment and medical attention they need and deserve.

Along with a feeling of accomplishment, these actions bring an unexpected benefit, one that is not often discussed for fear of sounding self-serving: Philanthropy reinforces business success. By extending time and talent outside the office, an entrepreneur reveals his or her personal and professional integrity, underscores his or her skills, and illustrates a commitment not just to an individual business but to the community and the greater good.

Here at BlueBridge, volunteerism is a passion; it’s woven into who we are as people and also as a company. A few of our team’s examples: Ron Eckart, a BBN engineer, is a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Petar Bojovic, director of operations, sits on the board of Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners, whose mission is to protect and restore the water quality of Tinker’s Creek watershed, the largest tributary to the Cuyahoga River. I volunteer with the United Way and also sit on many boards, including the Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board and several advisory boards.

What one does in the avocations brings credibility to what they do day to day. Recently we were visited by a new customer. The IT executive from this major city school system insisted on meeting me face to face when visiting our data center to see his project and sign off. The reason he came to see me personally was to tell me about a student who “shadowed” at BlueBridge about five years ago. She was inspired to go in the IT business and work in the digital age from her visit that day. She voiced her enthusiasm and made her goal known. Now she has completed a four-year degree in computer science at the University of Akron and is working in the field.

You never know what you’re doing or saying when someone is watching and listening and what a difference or an impact you may have on their life and your bottom line.

Link to CBC Magazine story

Kevin Goodman is the managing director, partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center and cloud computing business. He can be reached at (216) 621-2583 and [email protected].