Civics Inc.: How every business can help promote a healthy democracy

Civics Inc.: How every business can help promote a healthy democracy

EXECUTIVE BRIEFING

This is the biggest election year in history, as citizens in countries representing half the the world’s population head to the polls. At home, the 2024 U.S. election will once again put destabilizing pressure on American political processes and institutions.

We know that the moment demands more than our attention; it demands urgent action. Employers hold outsized potential to promote civic participation and protect our democracy, but for many leaders, that work feels more fraught than ever before.

Developed from the insights and experiences of business leaders and democracy experts, this report is designed to meet businesses where they are. It provides a strategic framework to help employers customize their efforts around three goals and five core assets.

Three goals for employers to pursue in service of healthier democracy:

  • Encouraging and enabling civic participation
  • Promoting information accessibility, transparency, and quality
  • Supporting issues that protect fundamental rights and protect democracy

Five core assets that all businesses can leverage in pursuit of these goals:

  • Workplace policies and benefits
  • Employee engagement and people infrastructure
  • Corporate products and services
  • Political contributions and advocacy
  • Corporate and executive voice

What else is included in the report?

  • Talking points for making the business case for democracy, provided directly by corporate leaders and democracy experts
  • Dozens of real examples showing how businesses are promoting civic participation and a healthier democracy, paired with detailed implementation guidance
  • Peer-vetted recommendations for partner organizations on a wide-range of needs

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Investing in employee well-being: innovative policies and benefits

Investing in employee well-being: innovative policies and benefits

CURATED COLLECTION

The COVID-19 pandemic served as catalyst for employers to invest more deeply and creatively in employee wellbeing, driven by fundamental changes to workplaces (e.g. remote work), implications for healthcare, family and childcare support, financial outlook, and more. Simultaneously, increased focus on racial justice and equity has heightened private sector commitments to inclusive workplace policies for marginalized communities. More recently, policy changes in the U.S. –  including the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the childcare cliff – have escalated the need for employers to increase benefits that supplement lack of government supports. 

Employees and companies alike are placing workplace wellbeing higher on their priority lists. 91% of employees find that their job plays a role in determining their wellbeing, and 57% report seriously considering quitting for a more supportive workplace. 76% of U.S. executives feel that expectations about workforce wellbeing are higher than in previous years, and 87% say that workforce wellbeing gives their company a competitive advantage. In addition to productivity and retention advantages, companies with higher employee wellbeing scores fare better financially, showing a superior return on assets, higher profits, and higher valuations.

When balanced with other core aspects of employee experience (including leadership behaviors and job design), inclusive employee policies and benefits can play a significant role in supporting holistic wellbeing. This Curated Collection provides the business rationale for and innovative examples of private sector wellbeing policies and benefits across five key areas: reproductive health, family care, paid leave, financial wellbeing, and mental health.


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Guide to engaging employees in corporate volunteerism

Guide to engaging employees in corporate volunteerism

EXECUTIVE BRIEFING

A majority of employees (69%) report that “having societal impact is a high expectation or deal breaker when considering a job” (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2023). By facilitating volunteerism, companies can help to meet growing employee interest in purpose-driven work environments while harnessing the power of individual and collective contributions to drive impact.

Generally, employees are eager to have access to volunteer opportunities through work. Seventy-one percent of employees say it’s imperative or very important to work at a company that is supportive of giving and volunteering (America’s Charities, 2022), and they attribute volunteerism to well-being (77%), boosted morale (70%), and strengthened camaraderie (64%) (Bright Funds, 2021). Additionally, 92% of corporate human resources executives feel that leadership and professional skills are strengthened by contributing expertise to nonprofits (Deloitte, 2017). 

However, volunteer participation is decreasing. In 2022, 86% of companies offered domestic virtual volunteerism programs but only 19.8% of employees volunteered one hour or more of their time – lower than the pre-pandemic average of 29% (CECP, 2023). Nonprofit organizations are noticing this downward trend. In a recent survey, 47% of nonprofit CEOs said that recruiting sufficient volunteers is a notable problem for their organization (Do Good Institute, 2023). 

Given the increased value that employees place on working within purpose-driven environments, what explains the decline in volunteerism? Workers cite the following major detractors from volunteering: pressure from employers and colleagues, no availability during work hours, undefined projects, limited information about NGOs, and lack of a platform to register, participate, and track hours (America’s Charities, 2022). Moreover, few feel that volunteering can enhance their career opportunities (18%) or help to develop new skills (36%) (Deloitte).

Gathered from NationSwell members and independent research, this resource provides strategic guidance, case examples, and implementation checklists for companies to strengthen and advance their volunteerism efforts, with a specific focus on mitigating barriers and increasing incentives for employees. 

In this report you will find: 

  • Four critical areas of strategic guidance surfaced by NationSwell members
  • Case examples of strategies in action, featuring Mastercard, PwC, LinkedIn, Nike, Dow, Salesforce, Coupa, Starbucks, MetLife Foundation, KPMG, Liberty Mutual, Medtronic, Bank of America, and Verizon.
  • Implementation checklists to support action

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Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging: U.S. certifications and recognitions 

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging: U.S. certifications and recognitions 

CURATED COLLECTION

From the Great Resignation to the Great Reshuffle, one thing is clear: workers want good workplaces alongside good jobs. For employers, however, it can be a challenge to signal their value to prospective employees or retain current talent in a tight labor market. Although external validation can never capture the true experience of what it is like to work at any one place, certifications, awards, or other public recognitions can offer employers the opportunity to pursue and promote excellence across a variety of DEIB dimensions.

This Curated Collection provides social impact leaders in the private sector with a roundup of United States-based certifications and “best of” recognitions related to different aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). 

The collection includes the following: 

  • Certifications achieved based on company-submitted applications 
  • Recognitions achieved without needing to apply

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Datasets for economic mobility

Datasets for economic mobility

CURATED COLLECTION

Wealth inequality and income inequality in the United States are significantly higher than in other OECD countries. And economic mobility is rigid. The likelihood of an individual moving from low wealth status to high wealth status over the course of their lifetime is low. Income disparity and wealth inequality are rooted in an array of social and economic factors, including race and geography. These factors create what is known as the economic opportunity gap.

This Curated Collection provides social impact leaders in the public and private sectors with a roundup of data-driven tools to strengthen their decision-making processes in addressing the economic opportunity gap. The resources provide specific consideration for indicators of racial equity and social justice and factors that promote mobility for disadvantaged groups across neighborhoods, communities, and states.

Resources include (but are not limited to) the following: 

  • Tools that allow companies to benchmark themselves against others on strategy and progress; 
  • Datasets that support deciding which communities would benefit most from company investments to increase equity;
  • Resources that encourage companies to prioritize racial and social factors that affect indicators of wealth (e.g., access to education and employment, and asset ownership).

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How employees value social impact

How employees value social impact

NATIONSWELL PRIMER

Business performance and brand value are increasingly understood as connected to an organization’s social purpose and impact. In fact, 89% of business leaders believe companies that lead with purpose have a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace, and 85% agree being a purpose-driven company drives profit (Porter Novelli, 2020). One of the groups at the root of this advantage are employees, who exert significant influence over a company’s success. In an environment where leaders overestimate customer trust by 38% and employee trust by 45% (Deloitte, 2021), it’s important to understand how these stakeholders factor social impact into their decisions about which corporations to buy from and work for.

This one-page primer compiles illustrative data about the ways employees are driving up the value of corporate social impact. Download to learn more.


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Insights for impact: 2022 edition

Insights for impact: 2022 edition

This year-end report synthesizes the key learnings from each of NationSwell’s 2022 research publications and highlights several Studio projects with widely-relevant research deliverables. They cover a range of evergreen and emergent topic areas, including ESG, DEIB, community-centered philanthropy, corporate civic engagement, the future of work, catalytic cross-sector partnerships, and more. By focusing on solutions over exposition, and elevating the most urgent ideas, NationSwell’s insights reports showcase our deep commitment to valuing your time and delivering what you need to lead at your best.


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The state of play: DEIB

The state of play: DEIB

Organizations have taken a larger interest in the practice of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging since COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd, and other pivotal events brought long-entrenched societal inequities into the spotlight. While their arc of progress is uneven, the simple fact remains: injustice occurs as prominently in workplaces as anywhere else, affording companies the opportunity – perhaps the responsibility – to model solutions that could ultimately yield a wider societal benefit. This trend report describes five key trends for DEIB in 2022:

The trends: 

  • With high expectations from current and prospective employees, companies are revamping recruitment to meet diversity goals; they are struggling to employ complete strategies.
  • To advance equity and inclusion, companies are leaning into stronger benefits, policy updates, and employee resource groups; data on efficacy is scarce, but makes clear that the work is just beginning.
  • Employee perspectives on DEIB effectiveness vary in ways that are unsurprising; company leadership has a responsibility for more open and reciprocal communications to better respond to these differences.
  • Reporting and disclosures around DEIB are improving, but the data is inconsistent and incomplete.
  • DEIB executives are turning over at an increasingly high rate; lack of resourcing, insufficient company-wide engagement, and burnout are major contributors.

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Social impact professionals’ views on the changing talent pipeline

Social impact professionals’ views on the changing talent pipeline

SURVEY FINDINGS

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the way we work in unprecedented ways, both positively and negatively. While many employees attained new flexibility to work from home, and others exercised new leverage to pursue beneficial career shifts, many others experienced significant difficulties, like record high rates of burnout, layoffs, and rising cost of living. Educational attainment patterns have also shifted, with lower levels of post-secondary enrollment and higher levels of dropout changing the outlook for future workforce qualifications. For employers, these trends are increasing pressure to evaluate strategies and investments that affect the education, training, and retention of their current and future employees.

To better understand the sentiments and priorities of purpose-driven professionals, individuals who are often at the vanguard of social impact and innovation, NationSwell partnered with Lydia Loizides, President of Talentedly. Together we surveyed the NationSwell Council, a diverse community of individual changemakers, to learn more about their unique perspective on the evolving demands of the talent pipeline in the United States. This report provides findings from that survey.

Specifically, it explores three themes that emerged from eight major findings: 

Educating the future workforce

  • Social impact professionals say the educational and job training ecosystems are in need of reform to better prepare young people for success in the workforce
  • Social impact professionals aren’t ready to do away with post-secondary education as a credentialing system
  • Social impact professionals want companies to be more directly involved in the education and training of the workforce, including during their post-secondary years
  • In their desire for a more prepared workforce, social impact professionals say soft skills are the most important

Hiring and recruiting talent

  • DEIB remains a top priority for social impact professionals, particularly as it pertains to recruiting and retention, but actions are lagging behind intentions
  • A majority of social impact professionals are aware of organizational plans to change hiring and recruitment strategies in the next 12 months, identifying a range of modest to bold efforts to increase candidate diversity

Retaining and engaging employees

  • To keep employees satisfied and engaged, organizations have been focused on improving communications from senior leadership and promoting remote/hybrid workplace flexibility.
  • ​​Social impact professionals are keen on increased compensation and stronger communications around professional advancement as key to strengthening employees’ job commitment in the next 12 months.

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The state of play: Corporate civic engagement

The state of play: Corporate civic engagement

Corporate civic engagement describes how companies plan for, respond to, and participate in political, social, and cultural activities that are important to their employees, customers, communities, and other stakeholders. Unlike traditional government relations and public affairs efforts, which often relate narrowly to core business interests, corporate civic engagement often denotes a clear, public stance on broader social issues and values.

2020 sparked increased corporate civic engagement, with companies taking a more vocal stance on a larger portfolio of political and social issues than seen before. Today, those same companies are grappling with the reality of serving a broad spectrum of employees, consumers, and other stakeholders in a politically fraught environment. The current moment – and those on the horizon – will tell us a lot about the social role of the corporation moving forward. This trend report describes five key trends for corporate civic engagement in 2022:

The trends: 

  • Since 2020, more customers than ever want companies to take a stance on social and political issues, but they may not be aligned on what that stance should be.
  • Employees are increasingly willing to leave companies and mobilize their collective strength to force change, and they’re not letting CEOs get away with non-public action.
  • Politicians and companies are confronting one another in uncharted territory; the risk calculus for corporate leaders is getting scrambled as a result.
  • Media and third party watchdogs are bringing more transparency to the gap between commitments and actions; they’re revealing that companies still have a ways to go.
  • Partnerships and playbooks are gaining momentum to address political, consumer, and employee challenges; though there remains no one-size-fits-all strategy.

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