For small and medium business (SME) owners, the ‘to-do’ list may feel never ending. There is always another metric to check or possible lead to follow-up. Trends come and go too. However, one which shows no signs of going away is that of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and is one which may be worth adding to the ‘to-do’ list. It is one area which has been proven to be beneficial to many businesses in terms of profits and staff morale.
The scale of course can change according to the size of the company. For some businesses, it may be about doing a fun run with a team of employees for a local charity, while for others sponsoring a whole community project for many years may be an option.
Certain themes are emerging which will be useful to bear in mind if you are considering CSR for your business.
Climate change is no longer just a buzz phrase. The effects are very real, and action is needed particularly around prevention, rather than providing support after natural disasters. Local initiatives can be particularly effective especially around beach clean-ups, work on flood defences and use of plastics within a business. Regular sustainable support is the key here and small steps are the key – consider an initiative such as banning single use plastic water bottles throughout your business.
Generation Z – those born after the mid-1990s – are entering the workforce as well as becoming consumers in the world market. Expect Generation Z-ers, who are the real early adopters as well as being digitally savvy, to demand better and easier-to-use technology, more flexibility in the workplace, more freedom of choice, and greater degrees of acceptance and transparency in the workplace and marketplace.
It isn’t always possible or viable for business to reduce carbon footprints immediately and drastically but, again, every business can make changes which all contribute to making a difference. Video conferencing has made remote working much quicker and easier so consider using this as much as possible, rather than travelling to meetings. Also consider introducing a subsidised travel card system for staff so that walking and using public transport becomes the norm. Installing a bike rack at your premises or encouraging carpooling and encouraging home working are all achievable incentives too.
In a constantly changing world, it’s more important than ever for business owners to keep up-to-speed with trends and initiatives. Diversity, inclusion and equality are to the fore and it will be necessary to ensure that your company is compliant with any changes in these areas. Look out for local and national training that you can tap into.
Check your supply chain
Your own business may be looking to its corporate social responsibility but how about that of your suppliers? Who are your providers and do your values align? Using local businesses for catering and supplies not only supports your local economy and other small businesses, it also cuts back on shipping, fuel, manufacturing, and logistics.
Enterprise Exchange also runs a management development programme aimed at supporting CSR goals. We train managers to be effective mentors and match them with an individual we see could be supported by them. We then support them to make a real and long-lasting difference to that person and consequently to the local community. This unique and innovative programme not only provides valuable training for managers in all areas of team management, it results in increased staff retention, higher productivity, enhanced leadership and mentoring skills and it provides tangible corporate social responsibility outputs.
Sources: Small business trends, Forbes, The Borgen Project