Corporate social responsibility or business sustainability is about understanding and addressing the ethics of your business and how activities impact on the society, environment and economy that you operate in.
You may have heard of Kenco’s Coffee vs Gangs, launched in 2015? Kenco is providing young people in Honduras with an alternative choice to joining gangs by providing their students with the training to become independent coffee farmers. And it doesn’t just stop there, Kenco are backing their students all the way to building and sustaining successful businesses.
Or maybe you’ve heard about Ben & Jerry’s employee-led corporate philanthropy foundation where $1.8 million of pre-tax profits are awarded to eligible organisations in America and around the Vermont area?
So what exactly is CSR?
Generally CSR activities fall into four main categories:
- Community – focussing on how the activities of your organisation impact (positively & negatively) on the local community.
- Employees – focussing on the rights and well-being of your employees, including other workers within your value chain.
- Environmental – focussing on minimising the whole carbon footprint of your organisation.
- Market place – this includes issues such as fair trading, anti-bribery and ethical competition.
So how can CSR benefit you and your organisation?
Ultimately your drivers for CSR will (or should) be to push all or some of the below business processes:
Innovation / Creativity – When your employees know that you are a forward thinking organisation committed to improving local and global communities, they feel a strong connection to the organisation. It is this connection that can empower employees to be more innovative and creative.
Cost savings – This is one of the easiest and quickest ways for your organisation to start engaging in sustainability by using it to cut costs. This could be as simple as using less packaging on your products or using less energy – these savings can add up quite quickly! A great thought process here can be ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’.
Brand differentiation – Sound CSR initiatives will improve your public image and enhance your reputation. Brands have shown time and again that customers are prepared to pay a little more when they know that the company is committed to sustainability and ethical practices, and so CSR can support increases in your market share and keep you ahead of your competitors.
Customer Engagement – Using CSR in conversations can be a great way of engaging with them. The message will always be ‘good’ so can often make conversations easier. You may wish to incorporate your initiatives into your branding and marketing efforts, using social media can be a great way to engage your customers and get them talking.
Employee Engagement – Employees like working for organisations that have a good public image and are known to treat their employees, suppliers and customers well. Employees are generally proud of their organisation’s CSR initiatives (and will spread the word to prospective employees too). Happy, committed and empowered employees are more likely to be engaged employees – and nearly all the time engaged employees are more productive!
If you are looking to use the power of your business as a force for good, we’d love to support you! Get in touch on 01621 730 824.