Education & Skills

CSR – the only business investment that never fails

corporate-social-responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an understanding that the actions a business takes and the decisions it makes, have an impact on society and the environment that must be acknowledged.

It’s a beyond compliant approach to business operations known as ‘social practice’. It is taking the socially conscious effort to honour ethical values through considered business delivery to not only respect but drive positive change through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to people and the communities in which we live.

Moral business ethics are underpinned in legislation and in the UK, we’re all fortunate to have corporate governance that embeds a benchmark of best practice specifically when it comes to social labour. Whilst we are seeing a transition into a socially responsible approach to extend into corporate environmental and economic impact, to date most mandatory legislation focuses on disclosure rather than directive.

Key takeaways:

  • Socially responsible sustainable practice is an attitude.
  • Many employers have existing CSR initiatives that they may not independently recognise.
  • Have you stopped to consider the sustainable advantage of interdependent business practice?
  • An employee needs more than just remuneration for their labour. A consumer wants more than just a product for their transaction. Investors cannot risk the downfall of reputational damage and want to see businesses build a culture of ambassadors.
  • It’s about building brand equity by doing it better, not because you should – but because you can.

With corporate reputation arguably more fragile than ever – vulnerable within the hands of social media – it is critical organisations operate Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with an approach to building their brand as much as they do their product. A bad product review rarely makes headlines. A bad attitude review, however, created new categories of stakeholder influence such as ‘cancel culture’. It can make or break a social status which is directly reflected in revenue returns.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) brings corporate scrutiny to the forefront and pushes many organisations to consider: have you ever taken the time to value your values?

corporate-social-responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a socially responsible strategic tool

A progressive company will understand that developing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)  initiative means strategising for organisational longevity. It forces social, economic and environmental matters onto the corporate agenda in considering the needs and priorities of employees, customers and communities and representing these in socially responsible decision making.

So what do we look out for? Sustainable practice is an attitude. The corporate consciousness alone in immersing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into operational frameworks will begin to develop an ethos of learning and awareness that will build a positive culture and subsequent behaviours.

From a socially responsible standing, many employers have existing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that they may not independently recognise, i.e. corporate governance that covers human rights through equal pay, safe working conditions, a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, anti-slavery statements and local living wage supplier guidelines. A developed, forward-thinking approach extends to flexible working, mental health and wellbeing support through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and access to learning and development for employees.

Environmentally, many organisations start with hesitance, on the misconception that green practice through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requires a large budget. Granted, committing to zero-single use waste, carbon off-setting or opting for only biodegradable stationary may hit the bottom line. But this socially responsible ethos will be neutralised through capping printing, implementing water-saving systems and setting up operational efficiencies such as software to automatically stand by all electronics overnight. You heard it right – sustainable practice may even increase your revenue.

To boast a truly economical spirit, a combination of the above is required further committing to recognising wider communities and their needs These can be minor switches such as supporting small businesses for catering or gifting (next time you order a birthday cake, go local and trust Hummingbird will survive!). Expand this into facilitating work placements with local schools to promote labour access to making an annual philanthropic alignment which can also be extended to consumers and employees in terms of raising awareness alongside remuneration.

Meet the trailblazers

Innovation is key when gaining momentum behind Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives as they are yet to have coherent universal understanding. Behaving in with corporate social responsibility may lack precise definition due to the blurred lines of practice + purpose. You may wonder how an organisation such as Formula 1 claims to practice sustainably when they seem to have one of the most recognisable carbon footprints?

The evidence is there: practice + purpose x recognition + reaction = progressive change

Formula 1 acknowledged its impact and reflected on how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may build and correlate to not only fan engagement, but the ability to prevail with racing worldwide as countries could take a futuristic approach to limit emissions exposure. Its ‘Countdown to Zero’ commitment paved the way for a revolutionary approach to being socially responsible in the world of racing, utilising stakeholder consultation, technology and behavioural change to ensure its operations not only continued but set the standard of what is possible when priorities are aligned.

Everyone wins

Undoubtedly still bearing a ‘soft’ label, the reality of organisations having to champion approaches such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the priorities of their wider stakeholders cannot be ignored. Stakeholder capitalism is reflective in every successful business entity whether it is recognised in its own right or not. And why?

Because there are no losers

Have you stopped to consider the sustainable advantage of interdependent business practice?

Organisations need employees to reach consumers to attain revenue targets for the company and its shareholders. Employees outperform when their needs are recognised and reflected – check out Google’s pioneering efforts on employee wellbeing and its equally reflective share-price standing matched with its employee of choice recognition awards. Further, some companies only exist if the planet is stable, as the Covid pandemic has shown us.

The naysayers will soon become extinct. The platform social media offers to promote those who do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) right vs those who do it wrong in a globalised world is overbearing and the reality is, money cannot dim that voice.

Progressive leadership approaches are a corporate asset and translate into a competitive advantage. Organisations can no longer rely on basic returns. An employee needs more than just remuneration for their labour. A consumer wants more than just a product for their transaction. Investors cannot risk the downfall of reputational damage if not socially responsible and want to see businesses build a culture of ambassadors. That can only revolutionise when the bigger picture is on the corporate agenda. Because have you ever considered what will happen if you don’t?

It’s about building brand equity by doing it better, not because you should – but because you can.

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