Making a Real Difference Through Corporate Social Responsibility

Evan Hochberg, National Director of Community Involvement, Deloitte Services, speaks on making CSR really matter

Heightened interest of the role of businesses in society has created a strong place for Corporate Social Responsibility in many corporations. Companies have allocated huge budgets towards social impact initiatives, encouraged employees to volunteer towards charitable causes and even established foundations to make a positive impact on communities. In this environment, what is the real impact that companies are making through their initiatives? Does it really make a difference?

HBS Volunteers and the Social Enterprise Club organized a talk on campus last week to understand the best practices in Corporate Social Responsibility and measure the real impact that these initiatives have created. The speaker was Evan Hochberg, National Director of Community Involvement at Deloitte Services, a company truly committed to its community initiatives. Evan was Managing Director at Community Wealth Ventures, a consulting firm that helps non-profits become more sustainable, and an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton before he took on a leadership role in Community Involvement at Deloitte.

Evan started the talk by describing two themes he noticed throughout his career. He recognized that the bar for community involvement across corporations had been very low. Most corporations were satisfied with financial donations or occasional events when they would get employees to participate in a community activity. Evan also noticed that even the best non-profit organizations were resource constrained most of the time, and were quite unsophisticated in how they leveraged business operations into their own functioning. Evan decided to address these two dominant issues through his CSR initiatives at Deloitte.

Through his various efforts, Evan initiated structured processes at Deloitte to determine which causes they would back and how deep their involvement would be. The structures operated with two broad areas of focus-on outcomes, and on leveraging core competencies. First, they focused on macro-level issues, and determined the Social Return on Investment that this initiative would reap as a function of time and money invested by the Company. Then they delved into the details of the initiative such as the actual social impact that the non-profit could create. They estimated and measured these impact indicators by setting clear standards. Setting priorities at the macro and micro level helped Deloitte understand the true impact they were making on the initiative. This also helped them identify and plug the gaps in their initiative by leveraging their core competencies. Evan and his team realized early on that initiative for community involvement came widely from across the organization. HE used this initiative from his co-workers to enlist people and their unique competencies to deliver value to the non-profit.

Today, Deloitte has a very refined and evolved approach to corporate social responsibility. Their approach to community involvement is to focus on community needs where they can apply the skills and assets they use every day to help solve complex problems. Deloitte attempts to make the most lasting impact by helping non-profit organizations working to solve social problems and deliver real results.