American Express’s report; Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way, found that 81% of the US Millennial cohort surveyed believed that a successful business needs to have a genuine purpose and 78% said the values of their employer should match their own. However, 62% understood the importance of maximizing shareholder profit, showing how these two ambitions can coexist in the mind of a Millennial.

Maybe it is because this double-minded, driven group is becoming the dominant segment of the workforce that we are seeing the growth of the concepts of social intrapreneurship and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Social intrapreneurship, as the name implies, means working within the boundaries of the company you are employed by in order to make a difference to the world around you. Along similar lines, CSR is often referred to as a self-regulatory mechanism in which a company ensures that its behavior meets certain ethical standards and international norms.

If you’re interested in how you can have a social impact without leaving your corporate job, this chapter is for you. Read on to learn how you can leverage your company’s assets to instigate real change.

Social Intrapreneurship

Social intrapreneurship, as the name implies, means working within the boundaries of the company you are employed by in order to make a difference to the world around you.

With their deep pools of talent, vast resources, and wide reach, the potential for large and established organizations to act as a lever for positive change is undeniable. But the key to this actually occurring lies in innovation emerging from within. That’s where social intrapreneurs come in. With similar attributes to social entrepreneurs, such individuals think outside the box and constantly push for change, harnessing the support and resources provided by their organization.

Organizations encourage intrapreneurship through a variety of practices. Some allow their staff to devote a specified amount of time throughout the week to work on a project; others create internal teams to develop venture innovation methods. Regardless of which form intrapreneurship takes, the goal of this practice is to create some sort of innovative change. Recently, intrapreneurship has become the perceived key to dynamic growth and change. The opportunity for millennials entering the workforce to join an established organization while still innovating and developing their own ideas is not only attracting top talent but also greatly benefiting these companies.

These organizations are driving social intrapreneurship forward in various ways:

  • BMW Foundation
  • The League of Intrapreneurs
  • Intraprenöre
  • Mantronet
  • Hilfswerft
  • Endeva
  • Aspen Institute: First Movers Fellowship

If you’re interested in learning more about intrapreneurship, this article outlines how you can create a culture of intrapreneurship from within. And this excellent article by the co-founder of the League of Intrapreneurs provides 5 useful steps to becoming a social intrapreneur.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility has never been more important. Originally a commitment from a business to acknowledge accountability for their impact on society, it has matured into a company’s obligation to make a measurably positive impact on society at large. Of course it matters on an ethical level, but it increasingly matters on a business level too.

Millennials dominate the consumer market and are increasingly making buying decisions based upon a company’s CSR activities. A recent and comprehensive study of Millennials by ConeComm revealed that over 9 in 10 Millennials would switch the brand they buy to one associated with a cause if they had the option, which explains the rise of business models like Tom’s, who will give a pair of shoes to a child in need every time someone buys a pair of their shoes. As Angelina Ong, president of Cohn & Wolfe Asia, says "Consumers want to associate with brands that reflect their own values. CSR is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must-have’.”

The demand for CSR is clear, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to get the strategy right. All too many companies seem to think that their CSR objectives can be ticked off with an annual event or by giving a check to a local charity. However, the reality is that consumers are too clever for that: A YouGov research poll of consumers showed that over 37% of consumers dismissed CSR initiatives as PR stunts.

So how can companies make sure their CSR strategy makes the greatest impact to society possible, while improving business at the same time?

  1. Employee Engagement
  2. CEO Involvement
  3. Authenticity and Sustainability
  4. Outward Communication

For a more detailed look at how to get CSR right, have a look at this article.