By Kenzie Ferguson

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn’t about making your company look good; it’s about doing good. CSR is so much more than a box to be checked or a term to throw around when responding to bad press or trying to mitigate reputational risk.

At Delta Dental of California, doing good is central to our identity and at the core of our mission to be a trusted health partner. We don’t see it as something we are responsible for or have to do – it’s ingrained in our culture. That’s why, I want to shift the paradigm and throw out the term CSR. It’s about social impact and having a positive effect on society and the communities we serve. It’s about caring for our employees, communities and the environment and ensuring our values extend to our partners. To highlight that impact, we recently published our first ever Social Impact Report – Living Our Values, which discusses our efforts for calendar year 2019.

What does that look like in practice? It starts with how we run our organization; we do the right thing – with our employees, external partners and with the rest of the global population. I think of social impact as a framework that encompasses five distinct and interconnected business areas:

  1. Governance, ethics and compliance
  2. Diversity, inclusion and belonging
  3. Philanthropy
  4. Sustainability
  5. Working with partners and vendors who share our values

In order to build trust with our external partners and customers, our operations needed to be rooted in ethics, which starts with internal mechanisms to ensure responsible operations and compliance with the law. And using that foundation as a guide, we seek to create an environment committed to diversity, inclusion and belonging practices that facilitate awareness of biases and provide equitable access to opportunities for all employees and partners to thrive. We strive to ensure that all are welcome and have the opportunity to participate.

Beyond the walls of our offices, we partner with the community through our Delta Dental Community Care Foundation. Philanthropy is more that writing a check at Delta Dental. It is also about providing paid time off for volunteering. We give our money, and we give our time and service to a wide range of charities and causes that our employees feel passionately about.

On a more global scale, we honor our responsibility to the planet through sustainability efforts such as investing in energy efficiency and going paperless. We can’t have a future as a business if we don’t ensure a future for the planet by reducing our carbon footprint and undertaking green initiatives.

Finally, in order to be a trusted partner, we need to ensure our entire network fosters that trust. We choose providers and suppliers who reflect and share our values. Our commitment to our community and the environment extends beyond our offices and employees into the entire Delta Dental network.

To me, emphasizing social impact is about making Delta Dental the sort of organization that employees are proud to work for, providers want to work with, communities view as a partner and customers feel good about using. We have an obligation to our employees, communities and planet. We cannot meet that obligation with talk; we do it by living our values every day.