It feels very appropriate to be blogging – and not writing a report – about my CSR consulting project since it is focused on social media! My team and I have been charged with developing a social media strategy for the CSR group of a large apparel/retail company. Heather has discussed the importance of social media communications and Leigh has addressed the business case for social media; I would like to dive deeper on the idea of using social media to engage employees on CSR and sustainability issues.

Best Buy is a leader in using social media to engage their employees, though they haven’t yet explicitly harnessed these tools to raise awareness and engagement on CSR and sustainability. Their tools include:

The “Watercooler”: A forum for employees to share ideas and news

Wikis: This standard social media collaboration tool has helped information to travel up from the stores to corporate HQ and to promote best practice sharing

“Loop” tool: This tool allows employees to drive innovation by suggesting ideas that can be funded

Tag Trade Market Place that helps the company get a pulse on employee opinion as ideas are “traded” in a virtual idea market

Best Buy has all the right tools in place (and it probably helps that their employees are techies), but I would suggest that they introduce conversations about and content on CSR and sustainability to these tools. For instance, think of the amazing ideas they could get from employees on how to make store operations more sustainable!

One company that is explicitly using social media tools for employee engagement on these issues is Intel. In 2009 the company launched an internal portal/forum on sustainability that is now the most popular forum within the entire internal community platform. 80,000 employees in 50 countries are able to find out about sustainability goals and news, grassroots efforts already underway are able to communicate with the CSR team, and employees are able to find opportunities to take action. Intel reports that a “team is currently evaluating employee-submitted ideas for possible implementation.” It will be interesting to hear on the Intel blog the results of this effort – if employees have stayed engaged or if attention has dropped off.

Here is a good video summarizing the Best Buy Tools:

Best Buy: The Company As Wiki from peter hirshberg on Vimeo.

—Katie Swinerton

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