Large companies like South African Breweries, Vodacom, Deloitte and Telesure all have online volunteering ecosystems that have been designed by forgood.co.za. The proven trend of becoming more socially aware currently has leading South African companies offering employees paid volunteer leave of up to 5 days – the reason behind it being to make a meaningful difference.
Except for the fact that corporate social activism might have a positive influence on your company’s BBBEE rating, it also has a prodigious impact on your employees. Over and above its impact on communities, volunteering can create awareness around concepts like privilege and socio-economic imbalance and it can encourage cultural understanding.
It improves collaboration, innovation and soft-skill development too, which are key in creating a considerate workforce. Forgood.co.za, South Africa’s largest online volunteering platform’s CEO, Andy Hadfield, says that the skillset within the corporate workforce can help deliver on social projects, create developmental strategies and fill resource gaps. “The ugly truth is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” This is why, in order to close this inequality gap, South African corporates and their employees need to get involved.
According to Hadfield, the South African consumer prefers to do business with companies that care. Similarly, employees (especially millennials) prefer working for companies that use their status and infrastructure to do good.
The key, though, is to create volunteering programmes that are sustainable and that will support communities over the long run. Showing a conscience and highlighting the social purpose behind a brand has become a very useful tool for companies, but there is no use if the social purpose is not sustainable.
Hadfield says that the private sector needs to build more meaningful engagements with civil society. Corporates therefore need to find ways to connect the resources of the empowered to the needs of the disempowered.
Written by Renate Engelbrecht