The role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has never been greater. With people becoming increasingly aware of the problems being faced by the environment and society as a whole, consumers and employees now want to be involved with companies that show interest and awareness of the world around them and have a positive impact through their CSR.
Traditionally, CSR has been the preserve of global organisations with limitless budgets, but over the years, smaller businesses with a strong sense of ethics have taking it upon themselves to do everything they can to further a number of social and environmental causes through their work.
Perhaps surprisingly, studies have shown companies that embrace CSR substantially outperform those that do not, with an average return on assets that’s 19 times higher. CSR-orientated companies also have a higher level of employee engagement and a better standard of customer service.
Examples of UK SMEs embracing CSR
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When it comes to CSR, size matters. However, there are also lots of smaller businesses that are working hard to do their bit. One example is the workplace fruit provider Fruitful Office, which has a number of CSR programmes it is currently committed to.
That includes a tree planting scheme, which has so far led to the planting of 1.6 million trees in Malawi, with many local people now in full-time employment as part of the initiative. It was also a supporter of the recent World Transplant Games in Glasgow, which aims to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation while increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation register.
But CSR initiatives do not have to be so far-reaching. Cocofina, a coconut product company, has taken simple steps to reduce food waste from their coconut oil production by using the coconut water created as a by-product to make coconut vinegar. In so doing, it took a step to more sustainable food production.
Shredall SDS group took a similarly small but thoughtful step by donating wooden pallets the company no longer needed to a recent fireworks display in the village. It made up most of the wood on the bonfire and removed the need to burn wood from other sources.
How can your business make a difference?
Creating a CSR strategy which is viable and is something you’ll be able to maintain is the key to creating an initiative that suits your business. To be effective, it should be built on the expertise of your business and be enjoyable for you and your employees to be a part of.
These are three questions you can ask to help you get started:
- What needs exist in your local area that your business could help to meet?
- What expertise do you have that others could benefit from?
- Do your employees have an interest or charitable links your CSR initiative could build upon?
What are the best examples of small business CSR you’ve seen? Please share your thoughts with our readers in the comments below.