Pulse on Citizenship: Working to make a difference

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly series from Microsoft’s Citizenship team that appears at 6 a.m. PT on the second Wednesday of every month. Pulse on Citizenship provides insight and commentary on topics and trends in corporate citizenship.

Earlier this summer, Net Impact and Rutgers University released the results of a study that examined what students and professionals across the U.S. most valued in a job. The findings of the report – Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 – were striking, particularly for those of us with an interest in corporate social responsibility:

- Employees who say they have the opportunity to make a direct social and environmental impact through their job report greater job satisfaction than those who can’t by a 2:1 ratio.

- Students believe that having a job that makes a social impact on the world is a more important life goal than a prestigious career or being wealthy or even having children. Among their life goals, it ranked only below financial security and marriage in importance. 

- More than half (58 percent) of graduating students said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to “work for an organization whose values are like my own.” More than a third (35 percent) said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to ‘work for a company committed to corporate and environmental sustainability.’

Those of you familiar with the Net Impact community of more than 30,000 business students and professionals interested in corporate responsibility may point out that the sample was somewhat biased in favor of those who care about social and environmental issues. However, the survey sample was statistically representative of U.S. students (juniors, seniors and graduate students currently enrolled in four-year colleges) and U.S. professionals who had graduated from a four-year college and were working full time when the study was conducted.

The implications for companies seeking to attract and keep top talent are significant. Indeed, as one CSR recruiting executive noted, a strong CSR program can be a cost-effective tool for attracting and retaining talent, even in the face of cost and competitive pressures that can limit investments in salaries or bonuses.

Within the Corporate Citizenship team at Microsoft, we regularly hear from our on-campus recruiting team that these issues are important to the talented students we seek to attract. Recognizing the importance of the issue, we also measure how our current employees feel Microsoft is doing meeting its responsibilities in our annual employee poll. This year, 93 percent of respondents felt that Microsoft is a good corporate citizen in their community and around world. It’s not every day you get that level of agreement on much of anything from nearly 90,000 people working around the globe.

In the interest of full disclosure we should note that Microsoft is home to the very first corporate chapter of Net Impact, and that our Senior Director of Citizenship, Dan Bross, sits on Net Impact’s Board of Directors. We appreciate Net Impact’s work advancing this research and certainly take it to heart as we seek to recruit and retain great employees.

About the Author

Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft