The Meaning of Lived Corporate Social Responsibility Experiences Among American Millennial Employees

The Meaning of Lived Corporate Social Responsibility Experiences Among American Millennial Employees

Author: 
Charletta D. Washington-Wilson
Program of study: 
Ph.D./IO Psych
Abstract: 
Millennials’ values and expectations are important considerations to the economy. This generational cohort will soon dominate as the largest population within the American workforce. Understanding millennial values of social consciousness as it relates to corporate social responsibility may help steer current and future work conditions to minimize job vacancies. In this study, corporate social responsibility, stakeholder, and generational theories served as the theoretical framework to explore how American millennials make meaning of their lived corporate social responsibility experiences during economic growth. A non-probability purposive sample of 10 American millennials (born 1980 – 1994) working in for-profit organizations were recruited to recount their exposure to, participation in and or feelings about CSR actions or policies experienced with their current employer. Through a qualitative phenomenological IPA methodology, the data was collected by in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Through deep cross-participant analysis, six themes, six sub-themes, and four patterns were identified. Major themes included (a) skepticism, (b) shifting expectations, (c) employer cared for my well-being, (d) employee costs, (e) CSR, alone, is not a primary contributor to retention, and (f) CSR is good. The study may inform organizational leaders and I-O psychologists in practical decisions involving CSR culture, strategy, and workforce management. Recommendations for organizational practitioners and future research are provided.
Dedication: 
This work is dedicated to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who always finishes what He starts (Phil 1:6). Thank you Lord for your grace, wisdom, and the stirring of my Spirit. This experience has reinforced my understanding of you as the source of all knowledge. To my husband, my love and best friend, Tim, thank you for encouragement throughout the years. You put in a lot of energy to covering the “extras” and filling the gaps of our life when and where I needed the support. Although you may not have understood all of my phases of this process, you dared to act with interest and curiosity about all things psychology. Without words, you spoke my language and showed me that you cared about “me”, “we”, and “us”. To my little angel boy, Noah, thank you for loving mommy the way you do. Your hugs, smiles, giggles, and cuddles breathe life into my soul. While you may not remember the earliest days of my program when you were strapped to my chest asleep while I conducted research, I always felt that we were in this marathon together. As you continue to grow into a fine young man, I hope you will embrace learning with a fierceness and share your talents to serve others. Most important, trust God for the little and big things. No words can express how much I love you two and appreciate you for choosing to grow with me! Last but not least, this journey was inspired by my mother, Lourdes, who’s always told me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to and my Father, Charles, who showed me how. Thank you both for instilling values of courage and discipline and being amongst my biggest cheerleaders. I love you two to the moon and back!
Acknowledgements: 
A journey like this never ends with a single set of foot prints. With deepest gratitude I acknowledge the souls, hearts, and hands that helped usher me along and shoulders, from which I stood to achieve this academic milestone. First and foremost, a big MAHALO to my amazing committee who shared their knowledge and time to challenge me through the process and encourage me when I doubted myself. Dr. Amy Hakim, Dr. Heather Allen, Dr. Ruby Daniels, and Dr. Stephanie Hoffman - may your life be enriched 100-fold for your service. Many other field experts and scholars played an instrumental role in guiding me through the peaks and valleys of my doctoral journey - Dr. Leslie Miller, Dr. Kelley Conrad, Dr. Mike Vandermark, Dr. Aaron Coe, Dr. Alton Harris, and Dr. Jeanie Whinghter. Your wisdom and leadership will be remembered and appreciated. A deep, deep gratitude to my dear friend and colleague, Lisa Kracher, who supported this research in the recruitment of participants. Special friends and colleagues who encouraged and inspired me in unique ways - Dr. Debra Fan, Dr. Jennifer Cameron, Dr. Richard Ries, Dr. Renee Green, Dr. Deborah Hornsby, and Tracie Ann Tjapkes. There are many others who may not be mentioned in writing, but do not go unnoticed in my heart. Your coveted prayers and hugs helped grow my belief that I would finish the work that God created in me. For this, I will forever be grateful.