Collaboration and co-creation were reoccurring themes throughout the 2012 Sustainable Brands Conference (SB12), and I was glad to see event facilitators practicing what they preach by encouraging participants to take part in a co-creation team during the four days of the event in San Diego, CA.
Sally Uren, Deputy Chief Executive of Forum for the Future, and member of the Sustainable Brands advisory board led the co-creation initiative, bringing us through a multi-step process of addressing challenges the Sustainable Brands community faces. Teams met throughout the four-day conference to draft proposals for challenges the community should address, and how we can come together to address them.
I joined a team focused on employee engagement along with Kevin Wilhelm, CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting and Tiffany Bolton, Sustainability Analyst at Petsmart. We had a power team representing a consulting firm, company and nonprofit – which gave us the perfect balance of perspectives when addressing the complex challenge of getting individuals engaged in social and environmental change.
Through the format of the co-creation exercise, we identified the challenge, some ideas to overcome the challenge and how the entire Sustainable Brands community can get involved to help. Five of these co-creation ideas were selected by a panel of judges to be supported and highlighted by the Sustainable Brands community – including the Employee Engagement team! Here is a summary of our work together, and our suggestions for bringing more attention to the topic:
How can a company transform its employee base, from overlooked and apathetic, to engaged CSR advocates? This challenge looks to help CSR program managers access the examples, frameworks and tools to make employee engagement easier.
Ideas to Overcome the Challenge:
- Showcase case studies of effective employee engagement in the CSR community
- Highlight approaches or frameworks to help build an effective employee engagement program
- Bring the challenge and its solutions to the forefront of CSR conversations through media and content
How the Sustainable Brands Community Can Help:
The Sustainable Brands community is a mix of companies, consultants, agencies, social enterprises, journalists and nonprofits – so there are many different heads that can come together on this topic. The Employee Engagement Co-Creation team came up with the following suggestions for the community to take part in this shared challenge:
- Submit case studies or stories of employee engagement challenges and successes to share with the community. These can be compiled into guides, webinars or articles and shared with the public to learn from. (VolunteerMatch is beginning to plan a Best Practice Network Webinar on this topic for later this year – please contact us if you have something to share!)
- Write articles sharing stories, frameworks and approaches for effective employee engagement. These can be published CSR news channels such as industry blogs, the Sustainable Brands news site and wire services to get the word out about the practice. (We welcome submissions to guest-post on the Volunteering Is CSR blog).
- Repurpose information, articles and case studies you already have about effective employee engagement so we can gather these resources into an easy-to-access spot for CSR practitioners. (We’ll be coordinating a repository for this information with the Sustainable Brands team, so feel free to share your content!)
I left the SB12 conference with a bundle of energy to spotlight the challenges engaging employees in CSR programs. If you share my enthusiasm for creating more effective employee engagement, please contact me with ideas and information you have. Stay tuned for more from the SB12 Employee Engagement team, as we work to drive the conversation forward leading up to SB13.