Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
Your business doesn’t exist in isolated way making money. Your employees always depend on your business. So customers, suppliers, local community all are affected by your business.
Corporate social responsibility (in short CSR) is about understanding your business’ impact on the world and considering how you can use this impact in a positive way or keep well control on it. CSR can also be good for your attitude, going beyond to minimum legal requirement for the following straightforward principle is apply whatever the size of your business.
Corporate social responsibility can cut across almost everything you do and everyone you deal with. You should think about the:
The suppliers those you choose and the way how we deal with them. For example, trading with suppliers those who pollute the environment it could be as irresponsible as doing it so yourself.
How we treat our employees. To make the responsible business, this means doing more than simple complying with legal requirements.
How your business affecting local community and whether and how we should be actively involved.
How do we affect the environment and what we can do to use resources more efficiently to reduce pollution and waste.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t run a profitable business. In fact, corporate social responsibility can help you improve your business performance. By looking ahead, you’re ready to cope with new laws and restrictions. We avoid costs such as wasted energy, paying unnecessary waste fees. In fact most importantly, we can keep winning business by increasingly demanding customers.
Corporate social responsibility isn’t just about doing the right thing. It means behave responsibly and also dealing with suppliers that do the same. It also offers benefits to direct business.
Companies so often favour suppliers those who demonstrate responsible policies, as this could have a positive impact on it that how they are perceived by customers.
Some customers don’t just prefer to deal with responsible companies, but insist on it. The Co-operative Groups, for instance, places a strong emphasis on its corporate social responsibility and publishes detailed ‘warts and all’ report on its performance on the wide range of criteria – from animal welfare to salt levels in its pizzas.
Reducing resource use, waste and emissions doesn’t just help the environment – it saves you money too. It’s not difficult to cut utility bills and waste disposal costs and you can bring immediate cash benefits.
There are some other benefits too;
- Good reputation makes it easier to recruit the employees.
- Employees could stay longer by reducing the costs and disruption of recruitment and re-training.
- Employees are more motivated for better productive.
- Corporate social responsibility helps ensure you comply with regulatory requirements.
- Activities and involvement with local community are ideal opportunities to generate positive press coverage.
- Good relationships with local authorities make it easier doing business.
- By Understanding the wider impact of business can helps develop new products and services.
- Corporate social responsibility can make you more competitive and reduces the risk of sudden damage to your reputation and sales. Investors may recognise this and will be more willing to finance you.
Understanding the environmental impact on business
Your business affects many different people (employees, customers, suppliers and local community). It also has a wider impact on environment as well.
Even the simplest step like energy efficiency measures by switching off lights and equipment when they aren’t needed, makes a real difference. By reducing the usage of water could also directly cuts your costs.
Reducing waste also can make a big difference. Simple step like reducing the amount of the papers you waste could cut costs. You can even save more by planning about waste implications before you design new products and production processes.
Doing Care about the environment can attract more customers too. Mostly customers prefer to do purchasing from responsible companies.
There are many sorts of ways by you can reduce the environmental impact of business. e.g.
making recyclable products
sourcing responsibly (For example, using recycled materials and sustainable timber)
minimising the packaging for products
buying locally to save energy/fuel costs
creating an efficient and fuel-efficient distribution network
working with responsible suppliers and distributors who take steps to minimise their environmental impact
We could reduce the environmental impact of our business by using environmental techniques assessment like lifecycle assessment and setting up an environmental management system. See our guides on environmental assessment techniques – an overview and environmental management systems (EMS) – the basics.
Dealing responsibly with suppliers and customers
By working with our suppliers and customers in a responsible way our business can reap substantial rewards.
We can take some actions when dealing with customers are:
Make sure brochures are in plain and simple English, telling the truth without hiding anything in the small print.
Be honest about your products and services. Tell the customers what they want to know, including all steps you take to be socially responsible.
If anything goes wrong, you should acknowledge the problem responsibly and deal with it.
In returns you achieve the loyalty of customers in reward. Listening to consumers intentionally can also help you improve the products and services you offer them.
Choose your suppliers carefully as it is an important part of your approach to corporate social responsibility. For example, you may try to use local suppliers as many as possible. This helps you support the community and also reduces the waste, energy and carbon emissions from deliveries.
When choosing suppliers you should also examine their environmental practices, health and safety and their employment. Customers are concerned increasingly about the wider impact of supply chains. Your business reputation can be damaged by being associated with others those abuse the rights of their employees or their local environment.
Big organisations often audit their suppliers to ensure that they practise the responsible work. You could do something similar – simply asking them about their attitudes to corporate social responsibility might be revealing.
You should treat your suppliers fair way as particularly smaller business rely on you. For example, getting pay on time could make a big difference to employees.
Working with local community
Working with local community brings you a wide range of benefits. Local customers are an important source of sales for many businesses. By improving reputation of your business, you will find it easier to recruit the employees. A good relationship with local authorities can help your business run smoother. For example, mostly local authorities prefer to award contracts to businesses with a record of involvement with communities.
There are different ways to get involved with local communities. Some businesses choose to support local charities, or sponsor charity/community a local event. It makes a commercial sense to get involved in activity related to your product. This will let you use your expertise as well as showing the human face of your business. For example, some restaurants provide foods to local homeless groups, and while builders can give free labour and materials to community projects.
Look for opportunities that will directly benefits you, for example, by publicity, or improvement in neighbourhood around your premises.
Many businesses involve their employees to work in directly or indirectly with the local communities. For example, you might support the charities chosen by employees. Some businesses encourage their employees to volunteer for the community activities and also offer them paid time off for the involvement in community activity. As well as by improving your community relationships can help motivating their employees and can help developing their interpersonal and team participation skills.
You could also give your employees the option of making regular donations which are deduced at from their pay.
Business in the Community (BITC) has developed the Community Mark standard to help businesses get the most of our community involvement.
Communities Justice Project
The government’s community justice initiative helps businesses work with local agencies to make improvement in the quality of life in their local area. This can benefit the business in different ways. For example, if your business suffers because of damage in your property or the surrounding area, the community justice team will work with you to address this.
Your business could take a prominent approach to dealing with local crimes by supporting recent offender or your local community justice team. You could:
provide financial and practical resources to help the local community justice team
get involved with local projects
support staff who volunteer in the criminal justice system, for example, as mentors, special constables, youth offender panel members, or in victim and witness support
Corporate social responsibility can help you cut costs and boost sales. However, there are some other significant benefits which businesses forget about as they are harder to measure.
Identify and measuring indicators of success
You can benchmark business against others.
Some of the UK’s largest companies publish corporate social responsibility reports online.
You can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your environmental performance.
The Community Mark standard lets you measure community involvement.
It’s worth remembering that measurements will probably only show the immediate impact of CSR. The biggest benefit can be the long term improvement in your business’s reputation.
Benefits of corporate social responsibility
Make the most of your corporate social responsibility activities by publicising them. Ensure the customers, suppliers and the local community that they know what you are doing. Corporate social responsibility lends itself to bring good news stories.
Publicity can be a key part of using corporate social responsibility to successfully qualify for contracts. People want to get involve with businesses they respect. Corporate social responsibility can be particularly effective for targeting ethical companies, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
At the same time, you should see corporate social responsibility as part of a continuing process of building long-term value. Everything and all good steps you do should help improve your business’s reputation and encourage customers to stay involved with you for long time. A business that buys recycled paper, but exploits its customers and ignores the community, has missed the point.
You can consider working towards a management standards which you can then use to publicise your ethical, social responsibility or environmental. For example, many businesses have achieved the environmental management standard ISO 14001.
Images from: – http://www.carbonfootprint.com/vcs.html
Effective corporate social responsibility like this helps you continue to differentiate yourself. Even with dozens of competitors, a real commitment to corporate social responsibility lets you stand out. For example, John Lewis department stores are well known for a business that owned by its employees. Its commitment to corporate social responsibility feeds through into customer service, sales and profits. As well as affecting the way you behave, corporate social responsibility can lead to new product and service that reflect your values and those of your stakeholders. Over time can add up to powerful brand and winning business.
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How a corporate social responsibility initiative benefitted business
The Venus Company is an award winning shop and a cafe operator with several outlets based in Cornwall and Devonshire. Established in 1995 by Michael Smith, the firm has strong environmental and ethical principles, and sells food that has been produced using local suppliers. And Michael explains how developing corporate social responsibility policies have helped him to run the business successfully.
What Michael did to help the environment and support the local community
“Our mission is to be the greenest beach shop and cafe operator in the UK, and our attitude to almost every business decision flows from this. For us, CSR covers a number of elements. We support local producers, having spent more than £300,000 on local food and drink from the immediate area around our cafes, and use local businesses for other goods and services. Over 80 per cent of our food and drink comes from Devon and Cornwall.
“We also work hard to minimise our impact on the environment, from using solar panels to recycling, carrying out regular litter collection and buying non-toxic cleaning products. We’ve also focused on things like packaging to make sure it’s as biodegradable as possible.
“One scheme we’re really proud of is the SAM Beach Wildlife Fund, which raises money to educate local schoolchildren about their environment, and we also go into schools to do talks. Any business can engage in the local education system, and it’s very rewarding.”
Build a customer base and attract staff
“Building a positive image of a company that gives back to the community has undoubtedly created a number of business benefits. Over the past couple of years, we have been able to open two of our beach cafes year-round, rather than just through the summer months, as we have built up a loyal, local customer base and trade isn’t simply seasonal.
“Recruitment is another area in which the business has benefited. Many of our staff are young, and they are really keen to work with a company that has a responsible and ethical approach, so attracting people to come and work for us has become easier.”
“Developing our CSR policies has also boosted our profile. We’ve won quite a few awards, which have been good for us in PR terms, and we’ve also been able to use the award logos on our website and van. These have become part of our visual identity that people hopefully recognise. Entering awards can be a time commitment, but they can also be a fantastic way to audit and benchmark your business against others.”
What I’d do differently
Raise awareness about environmental protection earlier
“I’d have got involved with the education side of things earlier. I think we’ve achieved a lot when it comes to teaching local kids how they can look after the environment, but if we’d started ten years ago, we’d be much further down the line by now.”
Here’s how my business benefited from corporate social responsibility (Flash video)
Bailey Partnership, established in 1971, is a progressive multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy with five offices covering the South of England. Through their practices as a business, and role within community, they aim to support local causes, foundations, charities, schools, initiatives and people less fortunate than themselves.
Here, Chartered Architectural Technologist Paul Chapple talks about how partaking in corporate social responsibility (CSR) work has benefited Bailey Partnership.
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