The importance of corporate social responsibility
There’s no denying that the Blue Planet II episode dealing with plastic pollution made a huge impact on UK society and has helped bring the subject of corporate social responsibility to the fore.
It forced both individuals and businesses alike to think about their use of plastics and about their responsibilities towards the environment and local communities in a broader sense.
Either way, the programme was another reminder of the importance of corporate social responsibility.
But CSR is more than just a PR tool.
CSR can make a big difference to staff morale, boost your standing in the community and make the difference between a potential client choosing to give you their business or not.
If you’re not sure where to start with incorporating corporate social responsibilities into your daily business practices, here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Think about causes that align with your values
Every business, whether it’s a Chartered Accountant in London or a retailer in the East Midlands, has a set of core values.
Taking the examples above, an accountancy firm’s values may include making tax services accessible or affordable to more vulnerable people.
As such, it could offer a programme whereby employees could volunteer Tax help for older people – thereby being seen as an organisation that makes tax advice accessible for those who can’t necessarily afford the charges.
A particular retail business may value quality and sustainability, in which case a focus on sustainable cotton sourcing or the support of coffee growers in Columbia might be appropriate.
- Introduce environmental initiatives
From something as simple as paper recycling or using eco-friendly cleaning products, to procuring new equipment that is more efficient, there are numerous things you can do to make your company greener.
You can get your people involved by asking them what they’d like to see or getting them to rate a list of ideas in order of importance. This list could then form the basis for a CSR strategy spanning many years.
Short term goals might include sourcing more local companies to supply goods and materials; cutting down on paper usage, providing adequate recycling facilities and encouraging staff to car share.
Longer term goals may encompass heating or cooling your building more effectively; enabling staff to work from home and switching to cloud-based applications.
- Encourage innovation and engagement
Of course, keeping your team in the loop and enabling them to feel involved is a really important part of corporate social responsibility. Encouraging employees to make suggestions and requests gets them actively thinking about projects you can undertake in-house or outside the office. You could then perhaps announce opportunities via a regular email bulletin.
Bear in mind that you have as much social responsibility towards your team as you do towards others outside your organisation, so it’s critical to ensure they feel they’re being heard.
- Get involved with the community
The benefits of corporate social responsibility extend beyond your employees. There are dozens of ways to get involved with your local community, which will not only help those around you but also positively raise your business’ profile. It can be something relatively small like sponsoring a local football or cricket team, or you can take it a step further and partner with a local charity or another business to support the community.
A café or restaurant, for example, could send unsold goods to a local homeless shelter, or help out a local independent bookstore by providing a free hot drink when customers buy one of the monthly recommended books. Rather than an ad-hoc arrangement, try to set up something consistent so that your presence in the community is long term and provides ongoing benefits to those living or working there.
Team-building days are important for team morale, skills enhancement and better teamwork within the office. But there’s no reason why they can’t benefit the community too. Volunteering together can be a great way to strengthen bonds between co-workers and explore individuals’ strengths and weaknesses, while also doing something worthwhile.
You could create or help to maintain wildlife habitats, do a little DIY at a local hospice or put your fundraising skills to the test.
Many charities offer corporate volunteering activities – it’s simply a case of finding out what you can do in the local area and getting in touch with the organisation of your choice.
- Lead by example
All these practices are invaluable to improving the corporate social responsibility of your business and encouraging others within your company to adhere to the principles is vital.
However, it needs to be understood that the example you set as a business leader filters down to your team. It’s not a great idea to preach about car sharing or driving low-emissions vehicles if you’re turning up to work in the latest petrol-guzzling sports car. That’s a case of do as I say and not as I do!
Whether you’re managing two members of staff or 2,000, the responsibility for upholding the standards you want others to view so positively needs to come from the top.
Make sure you regularly step back and ensure you’re setting the best example possible as encouraging others to do the same will then prove far simpler.
Improving corporate social responsibility should not be viewed as an option. People want to be able to trust the businesses they shop with and work with, so if you are truly serious about achieving business success it’s vital that you implement and uphold the standards others expect. Failure to do so will likely cost your business dearly at some point in the future.
To find out more about the benefits of corporate social responsibility and how best to manage the activities of your business, get in touch with the team at THP Chartered Accountants today at one of our offices in Cheam, Chelmsford, Wanstead, and Saffron Walden.
About Mark Boulter
Mark Boulter is responsible for the efficient running of the firm’s infrastructure, and ensuring that THP delivers the best client service. Promoting the vision and culture across all branches, people are the key: “I like people who have a fresh approach and I’m happy for them to run with their ideas,” he says.
Communication across departments is crucial and Mark pioneers this. He ensure that people and departments not only talk to each other, but that they share ideas– whether they’re about marketing, finance, sales, strategy or any other topic that can result in us offering a better service. “I think helping to develop the next generation of THP people is essential to our success,” Mark adds. “We’ve a lot of talented people and our way of doing things increasingly attracts ambitious newcomers who are looking for a fresh approach. That’s good for us and even better news for our clients.”