How to develop the right Community Involvement strategy

A Community Involvement strategy defines the long-term direction and systematic action required to achieve a company’s goals in meeting both the needs of its communities and achieving business objectives. In short, a Community Involvement strategy is a three- to five-year, ‘how to get there’ plan.

Only a sound Community Involvement strategy, fully in line with your company’s overall business strategy or, if you have one, Corporate Responsibility strategy, can help you achieve focused societal objectives in combination with business objectives.

The business case for strategic Community Involvement is about:

•   Enhanced reputation

•   Improved stakeholder relations

•   Building credibility and trust

•   Demonstrating core competencies and innovation potential

•   Exercising leadership

•   Enhanced brand image and preference, strengthened brand value

•   Increased customer purchase intentions, retention, and loyalty

•   Improved employee attraction/retention

•   Expansion to new growth markets

•   Creating a distinct niche for your company

•   Contributing to long-term value creation for the company

Best practice interview: Ntutule Tshenye, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft West, East, Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands

Our interview with Ntutule focuses on how Microsoft successfully created and implemented an outstanding, global Community Involvement strategy, and on how that strategy gets adapted and implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the chapter, you will then find detailed advice on:

Developing your Community Involvement strategy as a cooperative process

Your strategy will be most successful in getting accepted and implemented if, from the outset, you can involve those people in its development who will later need to approve, champion, and implement it.

Defining your strategy: following a four-step process

Defining a strategy involves gathering many ideas and options and then making decisions. We present a straightforward four-step process:

For step one, you will need to carry out a thorough external and internal Current State Analysis. Externally, you will need to look at the state of the world around you, at what is needed in society, and what your stakeholders expect of your company. For that, you can also look at the best practice of other leading companies, and at the criteria of leading international rating agencies. If your company does business in emerging markets, you can find a one-page appendix at the end of the chapter with considerations about strategic Community Involvement issues in emerging markets.

Internally, you need to take stock of activities your company might already be undertaking and look into how you can potentially build on those – or what you need to change. A helpful tool to use is a SWOT analysis. We will explain this tool and provide a sample case in the chapter.

For step two, you will find a sample process and examples for formulating your own vision and mission statements.

For step three, we will introduce you to several methods and tools to help you and your colleagues develop your strategy. We will also provide recommendations for testing your strategy for consistency and for getting it approved by your board.

For step four, developing a work program, we refer you to other chapters in this book (two, three, four, five, six, and eight especially), which elaborate on all parts of this process.

Finally, we provide you with recommendations to get your strategy approved by your company’s board.