By Sally Lu, Business Analyst, Prophix Software Inc.
The author of this post participated on a SOS Outreach Trip to Pueblo Viejo, in Nicaragua, in April 2017 with fellow Prophix employees. This post is the first installment of a three part series on how your professional career does not signal the end of your volunteer opportunities.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is voluntary activities in which a company participates in to promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability. CSR has proven to create “responsible leaders” in today’s world, who develop clear leadership strategies with improved social and environmental impacts and invest in employees, communities, and the future workforce to build successful working lives that benefit both business and society1.
I was lucky enough to participate with my company, Prophix, in our most recent CSR project, in partnership with Students Offering Support, this past April in Nicaragua. Myself and ten other members of the Prophix team flew out to break ground on the construction of 2 new classrooms for a school in the remote community of Pueblo Viejo, Nicaragua.
During the trip to Pueblo Viejo, we helped with construction work, taught English classes for over 180 students in Grades 1-6, and donated the school supplies necessary for children to enroll in school. Our partnering nonprofit organization on the ground, Reto Juvenil, explained how rare school supplies are to come by in this community: “Students will write in their notebooks in pencil, and erase the previous year’s work to have a blank notebook for the upcoming school year.” The new classrooms we helped to build will provide a safe and dignified space for children to learn.
After seeing the impact this trip had on the community, I thought “Why are there not more companies with CSR programs?”
There are so many benefits to having a CSR program at any organization. First, CSR has been shown to improve employee engagement, increased employee satisfaction, and lower turnover rates2. As any employer will know, people are the company’s greatest assets. Second, CSR adds value to the brand of the company. It improves the image of the company and improves social media presence (you’re reading this, aren’t you?)3. These are important methods to attract and retain investors, and it is important to leverage a CSR program to its full benefit.
The benefits don’t stop only at the organizational level! CSR benefits have been proven to trickle down to the even the individual employee level! Employees who have participated in a CSR program cite they have a positive workplace environment, better professional relationships with fellow employees, and are more motivated to seek opportunities for growth and continual philanthropy3.
As one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers, Prophix has continually shown its dedication to giving back to the community through its support of numerous charitable organizations focusing on education, poverty, the environment, and health. Prophix’s priorities of employee development and community involvement are evident by the company’s investment in this trip. Prophix paid half of the costs associated with the trip and provided the vacation days for employees. To have a successful CSR program, there need to be employees who champion the causes, and executives who buy in and support the program.
This trip has truly strengthened my relationships with my fellow employees – with my team. At the end of the trip, it truly felt like we were a family at Prophix with eating all our meals together and supporting each other throughout the trip. It was such a meaningful experience, and I will never forget the children and families that we met. I am so happy we were able to inspire the children of Pueblo Viejo and show them there is a bigger world out there and that someone cares about them. I am proud that the work I do for Prophix is helping others, and that we at Prophix are doing our part to be better global citizens.
1 Exter, Nadine; Cunha, Sara; Turner Charlotte (2011). “The business case for being a responsible business.” Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management: 1-20.
2 Bhattacharya, C.B.; Sen, Sankar; Korschun, Daniel (2008). “Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Win the War for Talent.” 49 (2). MIT Sloan Management Review: 37–44.
3 Corporate Social Responsibility: 12 Undeniable Benefits. (2017).