Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to most people means donating money to charities, possibly through doing a challenge event, be that a sponsored walk, the London Marathon or cycling from London to Paris. Any of these will help the charity and ultimately help other people, but this is only one element of CSR.
Driven by the heightened consumer awareness about environmental issues, coupled with tightening government regulations and reduced funds available for community projects, companies are now
looking for innovative ways to meet their social responsibilities. It is clear that firms who understand their social responsibilities and explore ways in which CSR can be built into strategy are more likely to reap the rewards of enhanced competitive positions in the future, benefiting not only their shareholders but all stakeholders involved and the society at large.
In the past few years we have been putting together an accreditation scheme that allows business who are proactively engaging CSR to gain the profile and praise they deserve by going that extra mile. But, CSR is more than just philanthropy, it covers every aspect of society from the workplace to the community and the environment as well as charities, all with one common element, people. Importantly, it allows for any business, be they a sole trader or a multi-national corporation to be seen equally by society as a whole and recognised for being a good organisation to be involved with.
Reading the news this morning I see that the retailers are pushing back on a proposed deposit scheme aimed at increasing plastic recycling, I suspect because it will cost them. It is this type of business that in the current world will suffer a consumer backlash, the younger generation are looking for responsible companies and the planet is seen as a major issue and this is just one element of CSR. With a strategic approach to CSR, companies will not look at the short-term cost, but will see the long-term benefits, not just to society but to their bottom line as well. In the case of the plastic recycling scheme they would embrace it, promote, get more positive media coverage, engage with a wider audience and in the long term increase their customer loyalty and sales. Which approach would you use?
CSR is long term business tool that will deliver significant benefits to any business but will also create a massive feel good factor both within an organisation and outside of it. Have a look and see what those businesses that do embrace it find, you might be surprised.