Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is something that historically was only done by large corporates, often seen to be ‘ticking the box’ to make them look like a caring, considerate organisation. But the last three decades have seen a use in ethical consumerism, which has helped drive CSR.
As the global population rises and resources are ever more squeezed, consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social implications of their every day purchase decisions. In fact, several major brands use their ethical values as a unique selling point to appeal to this ethical conscience.
But it’s important that any CSR programme is undertaken ethically and in a considered manner. So we’ve pulled together some hints and tips to help you when reviewing your approach to CSR:
- Ensure you clearly align your CSR strategy with your operations, so there is an understanding across the business of why you are doing this
- Embed the CSR ethos across the business. You may have someone who champions the CSR programme, but ultimately, you need all staff to be bought in to make it a success
- Set clear objectives – if you don’t measure what you’re doing, how will you be able to judge whether or not it’s a success?
- Learn from others – read abut other organisation’s CSR programmes and understand what worked well – and why
Of course, running a successful CSR programme has a number of benefits, not only to the organisations you are supporting, but also to your team.
- Staff retention. People who are happy and feel valued in the workplace tend to stay with you. CSR can allow you to support staff in pursuing ‘outside of their job’ activities they may be passionate about – such as taking part in charitable activities, or mentoring someone.
- Personal development. Involvement in a CSR project can provide personal development, including leadership, public speaking, project management and team-building skills. In addition, the business will benefit from this staff development through their enhanced skills being put to work in the business too!
- A healthier workplace. Businesses can create a healthier working environment by introducing green initiatives and by encouraging staff to participate in activities which require physical exercise as part of the CSR project – such as gardening or decorating / cleaning up for a charity or retirement home.
- Attract your future workforce. Send your staff in to local schools or colleges that are running CSR activities. The staff engagement will make people feel valued and will create a positive view of your business’ brand. When the youngsters your team engaged with are looking for a job in the future, they will have a positive memory of their experience and time with your team.
- Employee engagement. When you’re thinking about launching a CSR programme, it’s a great idea to get your staff onboard right from the start – ask them to submit ideas for the activities that you could include and any charities that they’d like to support. Getting them involved is much more likely to make it an ongoing success. Also, allowing employees to take part in these charitable or volunteering activities during a normal working day makes them feel more valued as you’re not asking them to give up their free time to support the activity. You’re bound to get the time back in terms of positive attitude.
- Win more business. By demonstrating a commitment to responsible working practices through a comprehensive CSR programme, businesses make themselves more attractive to customers and other companies who want to work alongside trustworthy and respected organisations.