Showing Corporate Social Responsibility
We often hear the term ‘corporate social responsibility’ bandied about, and lots of companies know they should have some kind of policy in place. But what does CSR actually mean?
What kind of things reflect a commitment to CSR, and how can it benefit your business?
Essentially, corporate social responsibility is considered to be a self-regulating private business model that supports society in some way. It’s designed to help keep a company socially accountable – whether to itself, its staff, its wider stakeholders or the general public.
Why is it necessary to have a CSR policy?
As well as doing good, being seen as a socially responsible company can significantly boost a business’s image or brand – as well as its recruitment potential.
As jobseekers and consumers seek out more authentic and ethical businesses, corporate social responsibility has become a necessity, rather than an aspiration.
Companies who are focussed on CSR tend to report higher levels of employee morale and productivity, since staff believe they are working towards a greater cause.
For businesses who’ve been hit hard by the pandemic, CSR may – quite understandably – be low on the company agenda. But for those who have weathered the storm – and as we move towards the coming festive season – it’s a fantastic opportunity to develop your CSR policy and give something back at a time when the world needs it most.
Here, we explore five ways to demonstrate your company’s commitment to doing good:
#1. RECYCLE MORE, AND OFTEN
One of the easiest ways to begin your CSR programme is to recycle more and develop more environmentally conscious practices to reduce your carbon footprint.
Look at all the day-to-day operations in your business, and think about where you could make improvements. Are you wasting paper?
Do you recycle office plastics, including IT supplies? Do you use responsible packaging? Are staff clocking up more road miles than is necessary?
Google, for instance, have committed over $1billion to renewable energy projects around the world, and have adapted their data centre to use 50% less energy, while Coca Cola have invested in their fleet to create a 25% reduction in their carbon footprint.
While these are significant, measurable achievements from established global brands, even small steps from the most ‘micro’ of businesses can make a positive difference.
#2. SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY
Actively supporting local communities is a visibly impactful way to demonstrate corporate social responsibility.
Right now, for example, food banks are increasingly crucial lifelines for those who have been affected by the pandemic. Consider how you could contribute as a business, and perhaps partner with a local food hub to help donate much-needed supplies.
Some companies even sponsor and maintain a community garden to help offset their carbon footprint, or give staff the chance to take paid days off to do something positive for a local community effort.
#3. GIVE BACK AT CHRISTMAS
Think about the causes that matter most to you and your team. Instead of giving Christmas cards or corporate gifts this year, why not donate those funds to something more meaningful that aligns with your company’s core values?
Oxfam, for example, sell charity ‘thank you’ cards and caring kit cards, where profits go towards helping them support those in need. You could also look at longer-lasting gestures, such as offsetting your carbon footprint for the year by adopting trees or woodland.
If you currently host Secret Santa schemes, which tend to result in a dearth of unwanted novelty gifts, you could instead ask your team to make a small donation to a charity of their choice in the recipient’s name.
#4. ALIGN WITH A CHARITY
Many businesses align themselves with a particular charity, whether it’s on a permanent or changing annual basis. Involving your team in selecting a charity that’s closest to your company’s heart is a wonderful way to bring staff together and unite them in supporting a worthy cause.
You can support your chosen charity in three ways; by volunteering your time and your team’s time, by donating a portion of your profits, or by fundraising activities like sponsored walks, marathons and other events.
#5. FOLLOW ETHICAL PRACTICES
While environmental and charity initiatives are important elements of social responsibility, a robust CSR policy also requires a sustained commitment to ethical business practices. This is something that should ideally be embedded within your company culture at every level.
Ethical business practices include improving conditions for your workforce with incentives like a comfortable working environment, up-to-date technology for those working from home, Bike2Work schemes or childcare vouchers.
Netflix, for example, provides its staff with 52 weeks of paid parental leave, which employees can take advantage of at any point during their new child’s life.
Beyond the workplace, it’s also important to review your supply chain and ensure you select partners who also exemplify ethical practices.
The cosmetics company Lush, for example, is committed to operating fair and direct trade, sourcing ingredients directly from producers at a fair price, and avoiding any suppliers who support child labour.
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