Let’s talk about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). What is it? What will it look like within the realms of your business? What are the benefits, both strategically and ethically?
While CSR bares no singular definition that can be agreed upon unanimously, there are some central components that bring clarification to this type of endeavour.
Loosely categorised, CSR is the contribution towards societal goals, philanthropy and charitable projects. This endeavour is entirely voluntary, and sees businesses going beyond what the law requires to achieve social and environmental objectives during the course of their daily business activities.
Most simply put, CSR combines economic progress with social justice and environmental preservation. It involves your assurance that the economic progress of your business is beneficial not just for you, but for all of your stakeholders (consumers, employees, investors, etc.), as well as society at large, while also minimising your effect on the planet as much as possible.
Issues and challenges will undoubtedly differ from business to business. However, as an employer you should ensure that you provide a safe working environment for your employees, both in terms of physical safety and safeguarding against unjust discrimination. You should also ensure fair wages and working-hours for all of your employees, which align adequately with governmental regulations.
If we use the hospitality sector as a specific example, CSR could include minimising food waste through conscious planning, which is both sustainably and financially preferable. Other examples could include sustainable food and drink packaging for café’s and takeaways, and recycling where possible. To go above and beyond the basics, you could even donate food to the homeless, foodbanks and other relevant charities or organise/engage in a charity bake sale.
In the midst of a global pandemic, CSR has never been so vital. On a basic level, you should strive to keep your employees and clientele safe through mitigating the risk of the infection spreading. The most impactful ways of doing this are to ensure social distancing where at all possible, encouraging cleanliness (free hand-sanitiser, signs reminding people to wash their hands and regularly disinfecting the workplace) and promoting the wearing of masks.
Many businesses have gone beyond the practices stated above, however, in a goodwill attempt to alleviate the stress caused to many in these uncertain times. For example, countless businesses, both on the local and national level, have offered free or discounted services to NHS workers, such as food and travel.
The effects of cultivating and maintaining good CSR can be seen through both a strategic and ethical lens. In regards to the former, good CSR can drastically improve the reputation of your business, nourishing your public relations, and potentially resulting in higher profits. Afterall, it is no secret that brand loyalty is achieved, in part, through consumers buying into not just the services you provide, but your social sentiment and the fundamental values that underpin your business.
In ethical terms, CSR gives you a chance to promote a greater good, whether that is donating to a charity that is important to you, or giving back to a local community that has allowed your business to flourish. Alas, you can gain satisfaction in the fact that your business is making a difference and creating positive change!