The Benefits of CSR Initiatives: A 360Learning Case Study
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is often something companies think they should do—not something they actively pursue. But business leaders shouldn’t view CSR initiatives as a drag, or as something they need to check off their list to be over and done with. The benefits of CSR are far-reaching, from the external impact you hope your initiatives have to internal bonuses you might not have thought of.
In this post, we’ll walk you through our thought process at 360Learning behind our latest CSR initiative, ‘climate solutions virtual team building’. By the end, we hope you’ll have some ideas of your own.
What is 360Learning’s ‘climate solutions team building’?
360Learning is a remote-first company; as such, we have employees working around the globe, some 100% from home. Though we’re proud of this flexibility, our People & Culture Team also wants to ensure there are enough opportunities for team-building. These are important to foster a sense of comradery and company spirit—especially since in-person events have been practically non-existent for over a year.
In the past, the People & Culture Team organized virtual events like wine and cheese tasting or pottery classes. Though these activities were fun and effective, for this go-around, we wanted a more substantive theme. We landed on climate change.
Climate change is a real and pressing issue affecting all the ‘global citizens’ of the world. Working with a French provider, we came up with the idea of a ‘serious game’ that sits at the intersection of fun team-building and intentional CSR activity.
The idea is simple: on the day of the event, break employees up into groups to (virtually) brainstorm ways we can each, in our own small way, collectively help achieve the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. As a reminder, the goal of the agreement, adopted in 2015, is to, “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”
Why did we choose this project?
Collaborative Learning (described on the right) turns traditional, top-down learning on its head.
As both a CSR initiative and a team-building activity, this was one that could span continents, so we could include our American and European employees. It’s also an issue that affects all of us, no matter what country we live in or what language we speak. There are no logistical impediments (like for a food-based activity): all you need is your work computer and a few good ideas.
Internal communication about our new CSR guidelines
It just so happens that our People & Culture Team will release 360Learning’s official Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines at around the same time as this event was planned. It, therefore, seemed like an excellent idea to align the team-building activity with the theme of CSR, to increase the impact of the launch.
Shine a spotlight on existing activities
We have a ‘Green Team’ already within the company that was planning related awareness activities around carbon neutrality for Earth Day. Organizing a larger event along the same lines would bring awareness to this internal team and hopefully create some synergy around the more significant cause.
In sum, we plan to achieve the following with our climate solutions team-building activity:
- Promote the Green Team and get people excited about it.
- Create awareness around our CSR guidelines.
- Bring our remote teams closer together.
- Create a positive impact on the environment.
There’s also a fifth reason why we opted for this type of communal exercise—and that’s because it aligns perfectly with our ‘raison d’etre’ here at 360Learning: Collaborative Learning. In a nutshell, Collaborative Learning is the idea that workplace training and learning should be collaborative, democratized and bottom-up. Employees work as teams, so why shouldn’t they learn as teams?
To fully understand why we saw a perfect overlap between Collaborative Learning and this climate solutions activity, we need to take a closer look at one of the ways the French government approached the challenge of hitting the goals of the Paris Agreement: The French Climate Convention.
The bigger picture: The French Climate Convention
The goals laid out in the Paris Agreement are ambitious, and there’s no ready-set, easy rule book for achieving them. How can societies walk the line between imposing necessary change, while not restricting too many freedoms? What propositions would make the most sense and have the most impact? For the French government, one solution was staring them in the face: Directly ask their citizens. This was the beginning of the French Climate Convention.
As their official website describes it, “The Citizen’s Convention on Climate, an unprecedented democratic experiment in France, aims to give citizens a voice to accelerate the fight against climate change.” 150 ‘ordinary citizens’ (not politicians, scientists, or environmental experts), would be chosen at random to make up a special committee.
These people, also selected to reflect the demographics of France, would be tasked over 9 months with learning about the current climate crisis. Crucially, their work doesn’t stop there, since their main mission is to brainstorm, debate, and draft legal proposals to present to the French government for adoption.
By broadening our team-building into a CSR-driven initiative, we were able to check off multiple objectives with a simple, hassle-free activity. We could bring geographically distant teams together around a common cause. We could express our deeply rooted value of Collaborative Learning through a concrete issue that affects us all. We could draw attention to internal projects like our new CSR guidelines and our Green Team. And, we can begin to create awareness and action around a pressing environmental cause. For us, that’s more than enough reason to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility, and we can’t wait to see the results of our team-building activities.