What is CSR?
Typically, when people think of CSR, they often think of and associate the concept with charity. However, it is so much more than that; there are several factors that fall under the umbrella of CSR and can include: human rights, management policies, health and safety, environmental policies, working conditions and community engagement.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when a company operates in an ethical and sustainable way and deals with its environmental and social impacts. CSR helps a company be socially accountable – to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practising corporate social responsibility, businesses can be conscious of the kind of impact their operations are having on all aspects of society including economic, social and environmental.
Who can implement CSR into their business strategy?
CSR programmes are usually implemented when businesses have become big enough to give back to the community and naturally when the workforce is larger. CSR is primarily a strategy of larger corporations, but it’s not mutually exclusive – even the smallest company can have a CSR plan that scales up with the business. If you are considering adopting an element of CSR into your business plan, my advice would be to make sure that it is viable. Ensure that you are in a strong position financially, particularly if you are going to go down the route of fundraising for charity.
Types of CSR
Contrary to popular belief, CSR isn’t just about charity; there are several different areas of CSR and the main ones include: environmental CSR (energy consumption, recycling), workplace-based CSR (work-life balance, employee wellbeing), community-based CSR (supporting local charities, adopting a charity of the year) and marketplace CSR (managing the impact of the product or service).
In the last 30 years at the Elite, we have supported several charities – and our most recent campaign involved reaching a £30,000 fundraising target as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations. However, implementing a CSR-focused initiative doesn’t have to be drastic; just last month we announced that we would be facing the challenge of climate change head on by becoming ‘zero waste to landfill’ in a bid to become a more sustainable business.
Benefits of adopting a CSR strategy
There are many advantages of implementing a CSR programme which can be beneficial to a company as well as society. These include:
Developing a more human face to the company and demonstrating a community focus is important to differentiate you from your competitors. Today, this is getting harder to achieve as many companies are implementing progressive and impressive CSR plans into their business models. The key is to find innovative ways to implement CSR activities within your industry to grab attention.
By embracing CSR, you stand out from your competitors. You establish yourself as a company that is committed to going one step further by considering social and environmental factors.
The way that any brand communicates with the external public has a direct impact on their attitude and behaviour – and consumers are more likely to engage and communicate with a company that prioritises its corporate social responsibility. CSR builds trust and customer loyalty with businesses, leading to repeat business and in turn increased sales.
Enhanced reputation and increased brand awareness
In a digital age where social media gives a degree of anonymity and helps to amplify the voice of the public, companies are now held more accountable and are called out for poor CSR.
The priorities of any company should be first and foremost to provide a quality product or service, followed by excellent customer care and after-sales support. Having a good CSR plan in place helps the public to understand that the company has other priorities outside of making a profit. It is proven that customers are more likely to buy from a company that has a strong CSR programme that is woven into the fabric of the company culture.
If, as a business, you’re committed to ethical practices, this news will spread. Strong CSR activities are beneficial for creating positive news and are usually published above ‘hard-sell’ articles detailing a company’s products or services. More people will therefore hear about your brand, creating an increased awareness.
Greater employee engagement
When you embrace CSR, there are a range of benefits for your employees. Your workplace will be a more positive and productive, and by promoting things like volunteering, charity initiatives and sustainability you will encourage personal and professional growth. Having a good CSR plan can:
- Motivate and engage employees with a common cause, promoting quality
relationships within the company
- Improve retention and commitment to the company
- Create an appealing company culture to potential employees, attracting top talent
- Increase creativity and open communication within the workforce
- Employees will feel valued and be more inclined to spread the word about the
company to their friends and family.