Home > Charlie > corporate social responsibility in the social media space

corporate social responsibility in the social media space

When photography turns social experience
Image by Xavier Donat via Flickr

corporate social responsibility has been around for years. in its traditional sense it means to give back and to ensure that the community it works within remains healthy.

i am referring to the large corporates who have impact on our infrastructure, day to day life, health and well being. they are considered MAJOR contributors to our environment. i am talking anywhere from BP to SANTOS, from Telstra to Optus, from Origin and AGL, and even from ETSA and ElectraNet. we could also talk government departments and ministers responsible for our roads, waterways and people. they all play a part.

in many instances these corporates and departments have inhouse people and programs ensuring community benefit programs hit the streets and reputations are maintained. as a corporate communications consultant for ElectraNet it was certainly part of my role to be involved in this success. in the main i felt we got it right but then i know from personal experience that corporates dont always have true policy or procedures to align what they do with a communities real need. in the main it can very much be at the whim of a manager or CEO and what they simply just feel like doing.

since leaving ElectraNet and taking an outsiders point of view – and perhaps even cementing where my head and intelligence was heading anyway – i have noticed that the community at large is no longer just about the people directly affected by the immediate surrounds, but by the surrounds that a companies workers are involved in, and, the global population as well.

i take the stance that a corporate social responsibility should be a holistic, global view.

now, most corporates would argue me down mainly due to capital funding excuses and the like. but i’d like to point out the impact the social media world is having on our community as a whole. and that includes our workers who live in the community. i then pose that surely this is part of a corporate social responsibility ie to ensure the community it works within remains healthy?

i’ll say that again.

i believe that social media (online) should be incorporated into the overal corporate social responsibility to ensure the community it works within remains healthy.

we no longer sit on the other side of the planet in our comfortable seats with no knowledge that there are kids playing on a beach getting covered by oil from a spill produced by BP. we know about this because of social media. and because of this, we want to know more. i’m sure you’ve all seen the YouTube video i’m referring to? if not, it’s here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QwsCHd7Lcg

i suspect many in adelaide will want to know about traffic restrictions of any major infrastructure project just as much as it wants to know when the garbage is going to be removed and i KNOW most online want to know when their friends have been cut off by power outages for over 30 hours. we are concerned. we want to know when they are back and connected and all is well again.

but take a look at social media in general. it concerns me that employees apparently “waste time” when social media is a tool for conversation. especially when it has been proven that customer service improves by over 80% when used in line with other business networking techniques. i agree not all employees roles include or should include an element of social media.

it concerns me still that employees find themselves being sacked for stupid mistakes like talking about their employers online, when we all know 90% of employers dont actually have a social media policy in place. it is something that should be written into the employee code of conduct – but how many CEO’s out there absolutely REFUSE to listen to social media consultants to devise a strategy to include some simple points to cover all? and then how many CEO’s would allow their staff to be trained and guided by basic privacy and online etiquette techniques so that they DON’T get into this sort of trouble? who’s looking after who then? is the employer setting the employee up by not ensuring they understand? by essentially turning a blind eye that this problem exists? i do wonder.

there are some excellent examples for guidance. I wont list them all but here’s one of the most widely spread and a good example: http://exchange.telstra.com.au/2009/12/17/telstra-launches-interactive-3rs-social-media-learning-module/

now, this is a Telstra social media policy. they have set a good example to the community and created it and made it publicly available. so – right – you should all now be able to go off and develop a subset for your own organisation, right? i know i tried to engage some key managers within ElectraNet to do this.

but it was like everything associated with the subject, incorporating social media policies and promotional activities and procedures into day to day business life was a no go. to the point where one of the last conversations with them was to cease conversation via twitter (a platform we had successfully used for 18mths to release press) and a demand that I delete the staff facebook alumni group. yep.

to be honest i found it quite sad that an employer of over 250 people thought they could monitor social media via their IT Department “servers”. i asked on many occasions whether they would consider the inclusion of policies into the code of conduct as employees would just pull out their personal mobile fones. i found it sad i was asked by the Senior IT Manager why my Twitter usage was the highest in the company.

to this day i wonder what he thought my job was.

but i dont wish to digress into negativity as the grass is greener and there are many companies in Adelaide who do wish to make it right, who do wish to engage with their staff using “social networking philosophies” and many starting to get it right. congratulations to them!!

but back to my original point – i do think this is a serious community issue and one which is thread into the corporate social responsibility and our way of life. we have our kids to protect, our community and our workers.

its all about making our planet a better place to live.

-Charlie Helen Robinson

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  1. Chris Foster
    July 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Nice post Charlie, coming from IT myself, I know this is all about control.

    I can sympathize that you would feel like the odd one out trying to get social into an enterprise…because let’s face it, in the eyes of IT users are dangerous!

    IT needs to have control to stay relevant more than ever and will use security as the excuse to prevent anything not sanctioned by them.

    In the age of Cloud based applications, the very existence of an IT department is under threat.

    A great term coined for this phenomena is ‘EdgeIT’ as used in the book ‘Mashup Corporations – The end of Business as Usual’

    The book tells the story of a fictional Company, whose most productive and innovative employees, utilize tools, smart phones and web services that are not sanctioned by IT ‘CoreIT’ yet build bridges with suppliers and customers which result in higher sales.

    It actually presents quite a good set of ideas for breaking down the resistance to outside innovation into an enterprise.

    My approach to breaking down these barriers would probably not involve the liberal use of ‘Social’ as the catalyst to change….I wonder if change can happen from the outside in, by focusing on making innovative collaboration happen with suppliers and customers (by stealth of course)

    Social Media by stealth…like that old Palmolive Ad “Your soaking in it” 😉 http://goo.gl/vidr

  1. July 13, 2010 at 11:27 am
  2. July 14, 2010 at 1:30 am
  3. July 16, 2010 at 11:22 am
  4. January 4, 2011 at 1:25 am
  5. February 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

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