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Why CSR is the Key for Companies to Connect with Gen Z

Written By: Memo Ramirez, Marketing Coordinator

Why CSR is the Key for Companies to Connect with Gen Z

Generation Z is quickly entering the workforce with expectations of the companies they work for and their impact on our society and environment. Gen Z is not looking for companies to just give a yearly donation; they want more. This means your current way of doing business will be outdated sooner than you think. For Gen Z, social impact will drive what they buy and where they work. They are looking for organizations that serve society because this generation is built around community and support. Gen Z workers are three times more likely to defend this statement than any other generation. 

Shifts in generational attitudes around companies started with Millennials, but Gen Z is taking the concept of incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into business practices from a nice-to-have to a must-have. Gen Z will make up roughly 27% of the workforce by 2025. Considering the fact that Millennials also share similar views, which would mean within the next decade, most of this country’s workers will expect more from their employers in terms of social responsibility. 

In fact, Gen Z’s attitudes around a company’s greater purpose were a common theme at the 2022 Cause Conference where leaders across all sectors gathered to discuss social impact. The social impact made through CSR initiatives can make a difference in an applicant’s decision to work for a company by providing a greater sense of purpose and the opportunity to work while participating in actions that address issues in their community. Adopting CSR, specifically social impact initiatives, can help reach this generation through building relationships, increasing morale, and collaborating with like-minded organizations.

Builds Strong Relationships 

Incorporating CSR in general practices helps establish a strong relationship between an organization and Gen Z. Sustainability has seen an increased presence in modern education and has encouraged Gen Z to include it in their values. As a result, Gen Z has higher expectations of the companies they shop and apply for, looking for those whose values align with their own. Companies and organizations can build and strengthen their relationships with Gen Z by putting their ethics into action. Social activism has played a massive role in job searches, and finding a route that implements this into practice would encourage younger applicants to consider an organization. One study by Deloitte found that companies are more likely to retain their Gen Z and Millennial employees for more than five years by taking action on the specific needs in their communities in an impactful way.

Increases Employee Morale 

Higher employee morale can be a workplace trait developed or reinforced through CSR activities. Workplaces across the nation are still finding ways to increase morale and connection in a world where remote and hybrid work models are becoming more common. CSR initiatives can provide opportunities to engage employees and allow different departments and generations to collaborate and connect. Overall, good corporate citizenship helps increase employee satisfaction and reduces the risk of employees looking for other jobs.

Gen Z is known for having frequent job changes due to poor working conditions, lack of growth opportunities, or no connection to the mission or purpose of the company. With Gen Z becoming an increasing percentage of the workforce, keeping them engaged must be a priority that starts now. Having employees from other generations guide them on leadership and skill development can encourage a lower turnover rate among staff. CSR can further develop opportunities to engage Gen Z by providing a sense of purpose and pride that their contributions are for the greater good of the community.

Pathway to Collaboration

Leaders from every sector notice a need to attract this new generation of talent and adjust to changing work environments. When implementing a CSR business model, the possibility of networking and collaborating with other organizations in different industries increases. Part of CSR centers on collaborations that can address community issues, motivate employees, and allow for growth for all organizations involved. Utilizing social media to promote these partnerships can increase a brand’s reputation with Gen Z because the actions are visible. This is important because Gen Z wants to see action, not PR or greenwashing.

The time to adjust your business model is now. Being proactive by implementing corporate social responsibility initiatives can lead to a higher retention rate among young minds. The first line of talented Gen Z workers have already started their careers, and more will be entering the workforce in the years to come. Adopting a CSR strategy can be an employer’s response to win them over.

To find out how your organization can utilize CSR practices or enhance your CSR strategy, United Way of San Diego County can help. Our years of working with our corporate partners and giving back to communities have given us a unique ability to unite the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. We can help your company build your CSR program to retain and attract this next generation of talent.

 United We Can 

What We Do...

United Way of San Diego CountyOur success is measured by the lives we transform: the children who succeed, the families that thrive, the partners that align with us, leveraging resources and expertise to transform the lives of children, young adults, and families in our community and move them forward into a brighter future.

These stories are our commitment to the San Diego County and the challenges we face together: an intern watches a second-grader transform from missing school to setting an attendance record. A volunteer tax-preparer sees a struggling family transform from fearing tax day to looking forward to their EITC refund. A high school student transforms from a teenager with no aspirations into a young person with a future pipelined to a prospering local tech industry.

Change starts small, but UWSD’s goals are big and hopeful: from transforming hundreds of lives to hundreds of thousands of lives in our region.


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