This is a continuation of my Follow Friday Feature with Dave Stangis.
From his work as Corporate Responsibility director at Intel to his multiple CSR-related roles at Campbell’s, Dave Stangis—now VP of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility at Campbell’s—has keen insight into the importance of getting CSR right.
For the past few years, Stangis has stated the importance of ensuring CSR is woven into Campbell Soup's DNA, so that all employees are consciously and subconsciously participating.
In continuation of our conversation, I was curious to see why employee engagement is the linchpin of the company’s CSR portfolio, and how companies could use lessons from Campbell’s to create robust CSR work of their own.
AM: You’ve cited employee engagement as a mainstay of your CSR portfolio. Why is engagement crucial to CSR success?
DS: Employee engagement is not just a focus of mine; it’s everyone’s underlying motivation. Campbell’s CSR portfolio is broad and deep. From how we develop our products (recipe creation, packaging, end of life) to how we train and develop our people, we have to look at all of our employee programs around the world and ask if they deliver what we need them to. We have more than 30 manufacturing plants and our products are sold all over the world.
There’s no way one person can monitor all of that. We have to create systems, incentives, and business value in having an engaged workforce, and I need 18,000 employees to leverage this to make their own jobs better.
How? We have to engage them in ways that make sense to them; make it a win-win; and advance our strategies through the way employees are hired, motivated, evaluated and rewarded.
I want someone who is dying to come work here. I want them to bring their passion to work, feel like they’re making a difference, and turn that into a constant orientation of improvement. I want to reinforce the concept of, ‘I’m not here to do a job; I’m here to do a job better.’
And what do we get? People that are constantly trying to improve—improve themselves, their work, and the products.
AM: What's your advice to companies that don't have any or many CSR activities? Where should they begin?
My main advice to companies is this: do an assessment to find what you have and don’t have. Is the company the same in every location in which it operates? Is the benefit or need the same everywhere? Try to define what success looks like both from a marketplace and workplace perspective. Lay out a plan that has a company-signature to deliver that success.
That’s the step most companies miss. They go right to the CSR report. That missing step gives companies the biggest opportunity, which is to make its brand unique.
Companies need to create consumer/customer-facing brands or identities that match with [the brand’s connotations], then create audience-focused strategies.
We’re nowhere near perfect, but you and I can both see that leading companies in the CSR world feel different to us. With a brand-informed CSR strategy, you know the difference right away. You can sense if the brand is speaking to you or if you feel [the CSR strategy is] just a collection of information.
I’m not just talking about big brands, either. You could be a little print shop in a community engaged in an energy savings campaign. Any company can do it.
Ask, ‘What do my customers want?’ Look at [consumer behaviors], differentiate yourselves, and show why you care.