What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) simply put is when business direct some of their energy to have a positive impact on society. It is according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development :
“the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”
These days there is, rightly, far greater scrutiny on corporations and companies to ensure they are behaving not just legally but also ethically. Consumers and governments demand good environmental practice, a good record of paying tax, fair trade and living wages for employees and safe working conditions.
What is in it for the company?
Historically Corporate Social Responsibility was a public relations tool to improve a company or brand image but as consumers grow more and more demanding it is becoming more central to business practice. A good CSR record can improve sales and create PR opportunities, improve customer and employee loyalty. Corporate Social Responsibility is about building relationships while working to make the world a better place to live and work. It can drive innovation as companies come up with new products with sustainability in mind, can reduce costs as company’s strive to be greener by reducing energy consumption, can focus the company to take the long view and instead of focusing on the next dividend instead worry about how the actions today will impact upon growth and prosperity in years to come. Arguably however the main goal of CSR in the modern business environment is in brand identification and differentiation. Brands and products compete in a crowded marketplace and the socially responsible activities which can make or break the brand, it can engage customers with the company and provide a new avenue for you to ‘talk’ to your customers.
Employees too can benefit from an increased importance to CSR activities as they become more loyal and productive through better pay and conditions but also through engaging with the companies values, talking about the charitable endeavours of their employer is a free and powerful marketing tool! Not only employees more likely to be happier in companies with a good Corporate Social Responsibility track record but also by empowering them to support charitable endeavours, to come up with ‘grass roots’ campaigns it empowers them to not only make a difference to their communities but feel more valued, promote entrepreneurial drive within the organisation and gain valuable transferable skills.
Am I too small for Corporate Social Responsibility?
You might be thinking: ‘That’s fine for the companies with money to burn but what about me’? We would argue that SMEs have the potential to have a greater impact on society because they are nimbler, more rooted in local communities, more creative and have the most to gain from building networks, developing capacity within their staff and gaining a cutting edge in a competitive market.
SMEs are generally managed by their founders who, as well as making money, set out to fill a gap in the market or solve a problem and because of that close personal relationship between company and founder CSR creates an opportunity for the founder to engage in a socially productive activity close to their heart. And remember this is not philanthropy, not just giving money to charity, you are engaged in activity which will have long term benefits for your company too.
Why Green Shoots Support?
Our business aim is to help small companies and charities to grow; not just to make money. We are a small company ourselves and we understand the pressures and the possibilities this presents in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. Our enthusiasm for making the world a better place in helping small charities and companies to grow rather than making profit shows that we have put Corporate Social Responsibility at the core of our business model. But we don’t want to take a fee, give you advice and wait for you to call us again. We want to help you grow the capacity within your own organisation, to use Corporate Social Responsibility not only to make your business more profitable but also to equip your staff with the skills and experience necessary to drive the project forward on their own in the future. It is this, we believe, makes us the best choice for CSR consultant because we can help you come up with a strategy for the future and become self-sufficient.
You need not do very much! Corporate Social Responsibility s not exotic or costly, not difficult or time consuming. It’s just about being transparent, about redirecting spare capacity or empowering your workforce to be creative. You can develop the skills of your employees, test them out in new roles with more responsibility in a way that won’t impact upon your day-to-day trading, future proof your business by ensuring employee and customer loyalty and create opportunities to celebrate staff and the company both internally and in the press.
We have a breadth of experience having worked with other companies to increase their CSR activities, and having worked with not-for-profit enterprises in the past. We have built close links with charities and social enterprises across the UK and have a network of organisations that we can match to your goals and issues that are important to you.
We can help you to find a small charity to mentor, to be an ambassador for, that matches the values of your company to find out more click here or we can come to you and help you plan a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy that will work to achieve your social and business ambitions. We can arrange sessions with your workforce and encourage them to come up with and undertake high profile or high impact fundraising activities. We can also help your employees undertake voluntary work where appropriate by contacting various charities and projects locally that match the issues you are passionate about: by doing so they will not only gain new skills but volunteers also report better general life satisfaction too!
If you would like to know more about Corporate Social Responsibility or how we can support your business putting your ideas into practice contact us now.