The Civic 50 Hampton Roads


The Civic 50 Hampton Roads
Added on July 11, 2023 to Chamber Voices

The Civic 50 Hampton Roads

By Stephanie Gorham, CEO of VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads, a proud affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber

Does your business give back to the community?

You probably answered yes to that question. The businesses in Hampton Roads are incredibly engaged in the communities where they work and live. I want to help you be successful in doing this. It might come to a surprise to many that the people tasked with community engagement (CSR, social impact, ESG, whatever you want to call it) are faced with enormous hurdles in “doing good.” If you aren’t familiar with some of these challenges, please take a moment to peak into this world with me. I promise it isn’t all doom and gloom – there is hope at the end of this missive.

For consistency’s sake, we will call community engagement “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.” And as I mentioned, they face a multitude of challenges in today’s complex business landscape. As companies increasingly recognize the importance of social and environmental impact, CSR programs are tasked with navigating these challenges to create meaningful change.

Here are some key challenges they face:


Stakeholder Engagement: CSR programs engage and align the diverse interests and expectations of various stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, communities, and nonprofits. Balancing these often-conflicting perspectives requires adept communication and negotiation skills.

Sustainability Integration: Integrating sustainability principles into core business strategies and operations poses a significant challenge. CSR programs work closely with different departments to embed sustainability practices throughout the organization, often facing resistance or budget constraints.

Measuring Impact: Demonstrating the impact of CSR initiatives in a quantifiable manner remains a challenge. CSR programs are tasked with developing robust measurement frameworks and key performance indicators to assess social and environmental outcomes accurately.

Global Complexity: With organizations operating globally, CSR programs face the challenge of adhering to different regulations, cultural norms, and socio-economic contexts. Developing CSR strategies that are locally relevant while maintaining global consistency requires extensive research and understanding.

Ethical Dilemmas: CSR programs often encounter ethical dilemmas when making decisions that balance the interests of stakeholders, such as choosing between short-term profitability and long-term sustainability.

The CSR landscape is rapidly evolving, with new sustainability issues, emerging technologies, and shifting societal expectations. Staying updated and adaptable to these changes is crucial for businesses to remain effective and address emerging challenges in their CSR programs.

The Good News

Now for the good news that I promised you earlier – have you heard about The Civic 50 Hampton Roads?

This new initiative is a partnership between VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads and the Points of Light network. The Civic 50 Hampton Roads selects companies based on four dimensions of their community engagement – investment of resources, integration across business functions, institutionalization through policies and systems and impact measurement. If your company is looking to create or grow a corporate social responsibility program, this assessment will give you a baseline view of where your CSR work is compared to others in our region. This framework allows you the opportunity to see your strengths and opportunities. Getting connected with the Corporate Volunteer Council is another positive opportunity to learn ways of overcoming or dealing with the challenges I mentioned earlier.

Doing good isn’t always easy, but you aren’t alone in this. VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads has the tools and people to help your business be successful in community engagement. Check out the Civic 50 Hampton Roads assessment: it is free, it will provide real metrics, and it is open until July 31 (might want to go there now).