By Liz Bardetti

One of the scariest realities of starting or managing a company is understanding the risk involved should it no longer be profitable. It’s even more terrifying to consider how the employees on all levels might feel about the company’s ability to remain relevant. A 2016 survey found over a third of respondents felt their organization lacked the skills and talent needed to drive corporate resilience. Of course, corporate resiliency is something that all organizations strive for, no matter how bright the horizon may seem. Even giants like Apple have seen turmoil in their history.

What is Corporate Resiliency?
Corporate resiliency is as it sounds: the ability for a large company to withstand economic ebbs and flows as well as industry advancements and trends. These changes cannot be avoided and are even sometimes hard to predict, so a company must always be considering the next step that will keep the business in solid standing. That includes taking care of internal affairs, such as inspiring and engaging employees, as well as staying aware of external opportunities and competitive adjustments.

Staying Solid by Remaining Relevant
The previously mentioned study found 70% of respondents see reputational damage as the most significant concern to their business, which was far more than any of the others mentioned. Those others include:

  • Reduced revenue (38%)
  • Loss of new business opportunities (25%)
  • Reduced shareholder value (26%)

This is rather surprising when you consider the basic fact of business is to make more money than you spend. There are many factors that play into building corporate resilience. According to Liisa Välikangas, these factors can be broken down into four very distinct steps:

  1. Rethink the underlying principles upon which management is founded
  2. Continue innovating (with products, strategies, partnerships, etc.)
  3. Examine and manage resources
  4. Create risk management plans with monitoring and reporting that integrate across departments (HR, recruiting, operations, sales, production, business development)

These steps are pivotal for the money-making concerns, but they don’t answer to the 70% of people who fear a company’s reputation could be a weak spot. Even the risk management strategies are only placed for the moment a disaster may be near or has already occurred. So how does a company solidify their identity and support its reputation? Corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Philanthropic Strategy
The benefits of integrating a CSR program surpass just the reputation building opportunities, and often address the other concerns mentioned by employees. For example, Cone Communications found 90% of surveyed consumers are willing to switch to brands with responsible causes and 71% would even pay more for socially responsible goods and services. Not only does CSR work build trust with consumers, research reported by PWC shows a connection between high levels of trust in customers and willingness of partners to collaborate. In other words, corporate social responsibility gains and maintains customers which helps gain and maintain partnerships and investments.

Grantmaking and Giving is Future Planning
When we think of philanthropic program elements, we usually go to employee giving, matching programs and volunteering efforts. These are all great for internal morale and making connections to the community. All of these programs allow for a direct impact to causes that mean something to the people who carry out daily work and can support the mission and values of the organization in direct, reputation building ways. Not to mention, they are great for year-round participation.

Stepping into the world of grantmaking can mean direct impacts to the future of your organization. Grants can come in the form of scholarships to students with the desire to work in specific locations or gain specific skill sets. Grants allow the corporation behind the contribution to connect with the recipient in ways that ensure the outcome is as close to desired as possible. That includes requirements and eligibility being established by the foundation.

Building a resilient organization that stands the test of time and economic ups and downs is the dream of every entrepreneur, but reaching a level of notoriety doesn’t mean it’s time to coast. Resilience is about strategy, it’s about hard work, but above all, it’s about proactively affecting the environment in which your company works. Sometimes that means the literal environment, but it could also mean brightening the futures of potential talent or building up the surrounding community. In any case, creating a strategic CSR program is that step an organization needs to skyrocket.

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