Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR is something that all businesses, no matter how big or small, should be aware of. It refers to when companies conduct their business in an ethical way, so, for example, it means that they consider their social, economic, and environmental impact and human rights.
CSR has actually never been so important, in today’s climate where consumers are more aware of where things come from, how things are made, waste, the environment, plastic, and climate change. As more and more campaigners speak out, more government bodies pledge to do something to help the environment, Hollywood A-Listers talk about climate change in their award acceptance speeches and protestors make themselves known in big cities all over the world. Even if you wanted to ignore this, you couldn’t. The issue is so prevalent now that it could have damaging effects on your business.
If you are using plastic bags, but your competitor across the road isn’t, then who are you environmentally aware customers going to go to? It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in either as according to the State of Fashion 2018 report by BoF & McKinsey Sixty six percent of global millennials are willing to spend more on brands that are sustainable and an equal percentage of respondents said they would be ready to boycott a fashion brand if it was not sustainable. It does not stop there either when it comes to free-range meat and vegan skincare products; many brands are starting to see the appeal and opportunity to change to suit the millennials’ preferences. UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger now has three all-vegetarian outlets, and L’Oréal has unveiled its first vegan hair color range.
According to Global Web Index, millennials are more likely than any other generation to say that they would pay extra for eco-friendly or sustainable products. Over 60% say this, compared to 55% of Gen X (aged 36-54) and just 46% of baby boomers (aged 55-64). So what can you do to get on board and make sure you don’t lose out but also do a good thing for the planet at the same time? It isn’t just about the products either, it’s about the practice, and 90 percent of consumers would boycott a company if they found out that the company was conducting irresponsible or defective business practices highlighting just how important CSR is for all businesses.
Because of this, businesses of all shapes and sizes are investing in Corporate Social Responsibility. If you own a business or you are in charge of implementing CSR in your company, then it’s important to remember that your efforts should be meaningful and beneficial. You can learn a lot from many of the big businesses who have embraced their responsibilities and have worked towards operating more ethically. Google does this really successfully as it has made multiple efforts toward good citizenship. Google Green is their initiative which aims to use resources efficiently and support renewable power. In turn, Google has seen a 50% decrease in the energy required for their data centers. This is something that any business could do, and other companies are showing a strong commitment to CSR. Xerox, the printing company, has a Community Involvement Programme which gives employees the chance to work on social projects of their choice. Employees are even allowed to take a paid leave of absence to focus entirely on their social project, which is excellent and very encouraging for the employees. TOMS Shoes‘ One for One Campaign is a simple idea launched by the founder of TOMS. All that happens is that the company matches every pair of shoes sold with a new pair for children in need meaning that the company has now gone from a shoe company to a socially responsible organization that has given 60 million shoes to disadvantaged children.
Famous denim company Levi Strauss has a Workers Well Being initiative which was launched back in 2011 to help them focus on investing in their workers’ lives. The company regularly survey their staff to ask how they can become more engaged, healthy, and productive, and implement measures accordingly.
Then there is LEGO who organize a series of events around the globe to give children a voice to tackle various challenges.
Also, one Friday every month, Linked In’s employees participate in ‘InDay.’ This day is for them to give back to the community through employee volunteerism and resources. They have a range of different themes, from guest speakers discussing global justice to volunteering in local communities.
While all of these examples are from big companies and often when we hear the term Corporate Social Responsibility, we tend to think of big, global initiatives so it can seem overwhelming and impossible for small businesses. However, any change to work towards CSR is positive, and even making a small change can have a massive difference. Time isn’t wasted when you’re helping somebody else, and there are plenty of ways that your business can improve its CSR. One way to do this is to get involved with local communities; you can do this by participating in local events, buying from local suppliers, and get involved with community decisions.
Volunteering is another way that you can give back to the community by allowing your staff to volunteer for even just one hour a week of work time. They will be giving back to the community, and there are so many things they could do from volunteering in a local care home, offering their services to a Senior Resource Center, or help children with their reading in the local primary school.
Going Green is something that all business should be trying to do anyway, so similar to Google Green; you should aim to cut your power and electricity output. You don’t have to make drastic changes to see these cuts but make an effort by asking all staff to turn off their computers when they’re not using them. Make sure everyone turns lights off in a room when they leave it and unplug any electrical appliances when you’re not using them. You should also ensure all staff recycles by creating recycling points around the workplace and give the team an incentive to get them to take their recycling responsibilities seriously. You could also encourage your staff to go green by asking them to take more environmentally friendly transport methods to and from work. You could give them an incentive to cycle, such as offering a scheme where you contribute to the cost of a bike. Encourage car-sharing or taking public transport to work, such as the train. Provide an incentive, like offering to buy them a railcard or helping with the cost of their train fares.
Finally, supporting your employees is just as important as supporting your local community. Part of CSR involves ensuring that your employees feel happy, healthy, and safe while at work. You should invest in your employees’ personal and professional development and encourage their progression. For example, you could allocate one afternoon slot every week for employees to work on their own development.