Here we look at some good examples of corporate social responsibility, the benefits to a business, and how a strong CSR agenda can be used as a powerful tool for both internal and external marketing in 2019 and beyond.
Creating CSR agendas, and making them fundamental to how you work, makes seriously good business sense. Positive values create a ‘halo effect’ around your company, help retain happy, positive employees who have greater pride in their work, attract more customers and benefit the local or even international community.
There are three main lines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), also known the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ of ‘People, Planet, Profit’. More explicitly this refers to the social, environmental and economic spheres. Taking CSR seriously makes good business sense – positive, altruistic values create a ‘halo effect’ around your business, help retain happy, positive employees, attract more customers and benefit the local or even international community.
Below are simple examples of CSR initiatives your business could use to help improve the environment, staff morale and your pocket in one fell swoop.
Reduce Your Need for Resources
Reducing your carbon footprint to help mitigate climate change is an excellent CSR move. This can be done by:
- Reducing the amount of paper your office uses – using email instead of printing memos, sharing information and works in progress via Google Docs, and saving documents to the cloud are all initiatives that can negate the need for paper around the office.
- If your business is in training and development or dependent on continuous professional development consider switching to eLearning. Overall, elearning is a more sustainable, eco-friendly method of training than traditional classroom-based methods, as it reduces or eliminates the need for travel and printed materials.
Traditional training methods are resource intensive, needing classroom space, stationary, paper, documents and notebooks, folders and forms. Adopting eLearning methods means training and certification takes place via a computer wherever the trainee has access to the internet. eLearning also gives staff increased control over the development of their skills and knowledge. All together, eLearning increases staff morale and loyalty while also increasing knowledge, skills and productivity.
Choose Green Web Hosting over Fossil Fuel-Powered Hosts
Unbelievably, the global IT industry is expected to contribute more to the process of climate change than the aviation industry in 2020 and beyond.
The energy needed to house and cool the warehouses of servers is typically pulled from the grid, which is fuelled primarily by fossil fuels. Therefore, sustainable, green web hosting services like those offered by Kualo, GreenGeeks and Rackspace are an increasingly popular – even necessary – choice.
This excellent research into the best green web hosting companies separates those with genuine environmentally friendly credentials from those who seem to use ‘greenwashing’ as a marketing tactic.
Green web hosts invest in technology that renders their businesses carbon neutral (or even carbon positive!); create buildings that are energy efficient, and use renewable energy sources, while still providing a competitive level of service, speed, and uptime. Therefore, green web hosting can be a straightforward but significant responsible social, economic and environmental move.
Be a Responsible & Nurturing Employer
Showing you care about your staff is a proactive and productive way of investing in your own business and community at the same time. How?
- Pay above living wage
- Have generous holiday allowances
- Offer competitive parental leave packages for both parents
- Provide bonus pay structures
- Create open offers for training and professional development
By doing any of these things you are looking after your staff, creating happy, positive and reliable workers. Respecting your staff is a simple but effective way of showing that you respect people – including clients and potential consumers.
You can provide learning and career development opportunities through an elearning platform and a library of content so that employees can develop their knowledge and skills any time and anywhere. Keep your staff engaged in continuous improvement can only be a win-win.
This respect and goodwill will be mirrored back to your business from the loyalty of your staff and most likely – better performance at work.
Engage with Local, Social Projects
If you are a small to medium sized business an excellent way of showing social responsibility is through giving back to your local community. Here are some simple but effective ideas:
- Have some staff take part in a day’s volunteering with a local community group and have it covered in the local paper or newsletter. Some companies even offer paid leave to staff to undertake regular volunteering placements.
- Partner with a local charity. You might want to choose one that ameliorates the social or environmental effects of the industry you are in – for example, IT businesses might partner with a local environmental charity; or one that is meaningful to your clients/staff like a local school Parent/Teacher Association.
- Organise a team to create a one-off or regular charity fundraising event.
- Ask staff, customers and/or clients to vote for a charity the business can donate to regularly. This helps advertise both the company and the charities while making staff and customers feel involved, empowered and relevant.
- Invite local students or a scouting group to come and join you for a morning for work experience, help them learn new skills while you connect with your local community.
Take Responsibility for the Environment
Showing that you care for the environment is easy and incredibly significant. You can be socially responsible by changing your office to be a more eco-friendly environment. How?
- Have recycling bins around the office and in the kitchen/dining areas. Organise a recycling monitoring team to oversee and gently educate staff.
- Reduce dependence on single-use plastics and gain ‘plastic free champion’ status with the national charity Surfers Against Sewage. Invest in reusable water bottles for new staff and provide a water fountain for staff to fill their own; encourage staff to bring in their own lunch or buy takeaway lunches responsibly; encourage the canteen to swap out plastic cutlery for wooden, and polystyrene takeaway boxes for paper/cardboard; encourage staff to use their own refillable coffee cups instead of takeaway cups lined with plastic.
- Find your local BIC Community Champion drop-off point and donate all your used writing instruments to them! They are located at schools and collected by terracycle who then donate money to that school or PTA.
- Allow more working from home to reduce commuter pollution.
- Provide incentives to choose greener travel like this cycle to work scheme.
- Have plants in and around the office. So simple yet effective.
We believe that corporate social responsibility makes seriously good business sense. Having a CSR agenda that is a pillar of how you work can help you to attract and retain great staff, help to generate marketing opportunities and new business, and create a more positive buzz around your company.
This is not about warm, fuzzy, nice-to-have side projects, every company should see CSR agendas as fundamental to doing good business. Hopefully the few ideas above prove helpful for discussing and planning your own.
Photo credit: Clark Tibbs via Unsplash.