CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is not only the domain of big businesses. It is relevant to any business of any size.
Historically CSR was concerned with business impact in four areas: economic (suppliers and clients); social (local and national community); environmental (waste and recycling); and employment (psychological contract).
Having a CSR policy tended to be a pre-requisite for any firm wanting to do business with government bodies. The focus was on being efficient and reducing operating costs, for example by being more effective in the use of energy, water and reduction of waste.
But having such a policy goes beyond this; it can have a significant impact on a firm’s competitive advantage.
CSR is about the positive impact that an organisation wants to make. It goes beyond the required legal compliance. It’s about the ethical response that the organisation makes in respect of the four areas outlined above.
In recent years CSR has become an acceptable part of every business and is now viewed as a social responsibility that benefits the wider society as well as the organisation and its employees.
The CSR benefits
Effective CSR benefits an organisation in two ways. Firstly, externally to the organisation’s by protecting and enhancing the brand and reputation. And secondly, within the organisation by improved employee commitment and engagement.
CRS should not a ‘bolt on’ to a firm, it should be ‘part of the fabric’. This means that it should be embedded and viewed by all in the firm as part of day-to-day activities. It should be done without even being thought about.
A government published a Corporate Responsibly Report suggests that where firms adopt socially and environmentally responsible behaviour they make a significant contribution to wealth creation and employment.
The report also discusses the direct impact that a CSR policy has on efficiency and risk management and it discusses the trust and confidence that is built with customers and employees. This is termed the ‘reputational’ effect. It is this reputation for good corporate social responsibly that drives people to want to buy product from, or work for, specific firms.
Embedding good CSR leads to competitive advantage through better efficiency; more effective risk assessment; the attraction and retention of competent staff; the adoption of innovative practices and the identification of new markets.
Developing a CSR Statement
Every organisation will have its own reason for developing a CSR statement and policy. What goes into the statement will depend upon the values of each firm. This means that no two statements will be the same and there is no wrong and no right response to corporate social responsibility.
Taking the four headings discussed earlier the table below suggest some areas that might be considered for incorporation into a CSR statement.
| Economic | Social | Environmental | Employment |
| ---------- | ---------- | ---------- | ---------- |
| Safety of product | Volunteering | Pollution | Equal opportunities |
| Fair terms for suppliers | Involvement in community projects | Energy saving | Training |
| Use of ethical, responsible suppliers | Charitable donations | Recycling | Welfare |
A corporate social responsibility statement doesn’t need to be lengthy, or even written as a policy. By way of an example we share our own statement.
TimelessTime Corporate Social Responsibility Statement
We take our corporate social responsibility seriously and we endeavour to make a positive contribution to the communities in which we work. CSR is an integral part of our business.
In our community:
- We expect our consultants to volunteer with local charities, schools and other organisations sharing their expertise.
- We encourage consultants to be STEM ambassadors to schools.
- We encourage consultants to volunteer as governors in local schools, taking an active role in the governing board.
- We expect our consultants to volunteer as mentors to students at a local university.
- We sponsor our consultants to undertake such activities in work time as well as in their own time, billing travel and subsistence to the company.
In our environment:
- We do not waste paper, water or electricity
- We recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and other items where possible
- We take the train rather than a car wherever possible.
In our workplace:
- We work with local suppliers where possible.
- We support clients with their CSR development.
- We run seminars for managers providing tools that help them develop their people and gain greater staff commitment.
- We have an annual training budget for all staff.
At TimelessTime, we’ll continue to find new ways of discharging our CSR. We hope the examples in the table above, and our own CSR statement might give you some ideas to help you develop your own statement. Give us a call if you want to discuss how we can help you develop your statement, or policy.