Corporate social responsibility is a frequently used term but what does it mean for your business and how do you turn it into something that creates a positive impact for your business and bottom line?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the accountability a business must have to the people and community that it affects. This includes social, environmental and economic aspects. CSR is aimed at improving society in some way. It is not hard to get behind such a worthy cause, however making time for CSR in your business, engaging your employees to act with CSR in mind and then maintaining that focus can be challenging over time.
It might sound obvious but the best way to drive these behaviours is to have a solid CSR strategy in place. Getting the right focus takes planning, attention and passion from the whole business to maintain energy.
So, what does a CSR strategy look like and what does it include? There are three key elements that we recommend planet, people and the public. It may be helpful to break your strategy down into these sections.
Planet – think about things that can have a positive impact on planetary resources and sustainability.. Set goals regarding the conscious sourcing and manufacturing of products, how you deal with and support suppliers, have targets regarding recycling and potentially offering community recycling. Target ‘green’ suppliers. Look at energy saving opportunities, record energy usage statistics, try going paperless or set paper reduction targets. Look at your Environmental Policy and/or statement and how this is made known to your employees, customers and suppliers.
People – investing in your workforce is probably the best thing you can do to support a CSR strategy. Employees are your biggest advocates and promotors so happy, motivated and helpful staff have a big impact. Promote diversity, pay a fair wage, encourage the development of your employees, allowing flexible working, and reward your employees for doing well. You could also look at the ethnicity of the suppliers you work with: Do they treat their employees fairly? Do they have anti-slavery policies in place etc.?
Public – The people you and your business encounter should leave with a positive impression from that experience. Initially take a view of your impact area, whether this be local footprint or global. Understand your community and their preferences or needs. Think about charities that either align with your business or with the impact area. Make products for the charity, ring fence money for charitable activities, have a donation matching scheme to encourage employees to fundraise, work with local schools, maybe sponsor local competitions and events.
Once you have created your strategy then communication is key. Define and keep track of your actions, promote your achievements and boost awareness of your CSR impact by including it in your packaging, marketing and as a part of your company value proposition so it is seen and heard loud and clear internally and externally.
With research showing that 87% of customers consider CSR in their purchase decision it makes sense to get this right. If customers are likely to align themselves with brands that do more for good causes and community projects there should be tangible benefit for the planet, for people and for your profit.
Find out how we can support people in your business. Contact us today.