Think Globally, Act Locally: How Communities Influence Worldwide CSR


Think globally, act locally. The phrase has been echoed around the world millions of times in recent years. However, the idea remains the same. Focus on your local environment and your small acts will add up, slowly leading to change in an office, then a neighborhood, then a community, a city, a state, and so on. This idea has traditionally been associated with the environment and sustainability, but it can be applied to food consumption, politics, the arts, and much more. In today’s changing markets, it’s time for us to consider what ‘think globally, act locally’ can mean for corporate social responsibility.

If you break corporate social responsibility to its broadest form, it is about taking care of your employees, the communities in which your employees live & your company operates, and the environment your company engages with.

Influence of an Entire Workforce

When investing in employees there are a few pieces to consider. The huge yet simple act of creating jobs launches a ripple effect in a community. Starting a company or opening a branch offers entirely new jobs to a population, a better quality of life, more options and opportunity. After the creation of jobs, corporations are responsible for a positive workplace environment and policies that support continuing education, and employee’s philanthropic efforts with matching gifts. As a result of these policies, our workforce in that city will be more educated and our local communities will improve through these philanthropic donations, meaning that our nation and eventually our world will also improve.

Influence on a Global Scale

Environmental policies are often instituted at the national or corporate level. Sure, if you’re a huge company, it certainly matters to have caps on emissions, waste, and more. Unless implemented at the local level, those targets will not be met.

Recognizing and meeting these regulations and internal goals are part of the legal obligation to operate as a corporation in many countries. To extend into the area of CSR however, companies must go above and beyond to meet those requirements. This is only possible through the education of employees at the local level, creating a change in behavior (reducing waste), which aggregates all the way up to the corporate office, where data is captured and environmental goals are tracked. Not only will the small act of educating the workforce change behavior around the office, but it will also begin to change behaviors at home. Meaning our communities will be better informed and more aware of things like recycling and reuse.

Influence in a Local Community

There are many issues and causes that affect your company, your local community, and the bigger picture. Finding opportunities for your company to serve your local community through volunteering, donations, and more will strengthen your team at its core. There are also other opportunities for corporations to take a stand with local issues. Using your company to back certain local ordinances can have an impact on state or federal politics as well.

The ‘act locally’ portion of this concept isn’t difficult to understand or create a strategy for. The difficult piece can be the ‘think globally’ idea. You see, any action that you take that builds up your employees supports the community they are a part of, and saves your local environment will scale. Your actions will add to other actions that your neighbors and co-workers take, and these will accumulate to create change over time. The key point of this concept is to think about strategic actions that create necessary global change. So, in order to think global and then act local, it’s important to take a step back and realize whether your local actions play into the strategic vision your company has for global impact.

Starting today ask yourself, do you and your company’s efforts affect the bigger picture?

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