What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?  

If you have ever wondered how your business could help contribute towards social issues, then you may have come across corporate social responsibility. CSR is a broad business concept, which describes a company’s commitment to developing and improving their business in an ethical way. 

This means managing their processes in a way that would help grow their business, but also take account of their social, economic and environmental impact. 

A few examples of corporate social responsibility could be… 

  • Proactively managing your business to positively impact the environment such as: reducing your waste, reducing your carbon footprint, making changes to support sustainability, etc. 
  • Creating a learning environment for your staff, which could include investing in education and social programmes. 
  • Constantly seeking new ways to improve the standard of work and working conditions. 

All of these simple changes can improve your business performance and help build trust with your customers and employees. 

The four types of CSR:  

CSR is broken down into four different categories: 

Environmental Responsibility – 

With recent warnings of the impact that humans have on the environment and the world we live in, more businesses are committing themselves to making a change on how they create and deliver their products or services. 

Most corporations contribute a large amount to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste, and natural resource depletion. But by taking responsibility for their impact on the environment, they can actively make changes that will benefit the environment. 

As many businesses differ in size and industry, their environmental responsibility may look different from others. Some businesses may use more sustainable products, some may reduce the amount of waste they are emitting, and for others it may be seeking alternative energy sources.  

Ethical Responsibility – 

This is a rather important sector of CSR as being ethically responsible represents your business engaging in fair business practices. This is ensuring your employees, customers, and stakeholders are treated equally and with the respect that they deserve. 

You can use some common practices of ethical responsibility, such as: setting a higher minimum wage, making sure your materials are ethically sourced, and giving your employees competitive pay and comprehensive benefits like health insurance, etc.  

All these practices build trust amongst your employees and customers, which can result in more sales and a better work ethic. 

Economic Responsibility –  

Whilst a business’ focus is to generate profit, they can also show economic responsibility. This means making financial decisions that will prioritise doing good rather than just making money.  

Economic responsibility is directly intertwined with the other sectors mentioned above. So, this could be paying a little bit more to make sure materials are sustainable and ethically sourced, creating a salary system that fairly compensates all employees, and avoids any kind of pay gap. 

Philanthropic Responsibility – 

Philanthropic responsibility is very common practice in today’s world, as this represents your business’ ethos to give back to the communities that they exist in. When business donate to causes that align with their mission, it shows a level of respect towards their social environment and helps build trust in communities. 

Businesses do this by donating money towards local non-profits, organising fundraisers that will generate money for charities, or taking part in other fundraising activities.

The business benefits of CSR: 

CSR is all about creating a good brand identity that helps bolster customer and employee trust, and public respect. By actively committing to all or some of these social responsibilities, you will positively impact your employee satisfaction, customer retention and acquisition, and brand image. 

 The business benefits of good CSR are endless, but here are a few that we think are important to know… 

  • Better brand recognition 
  • Positive business reputation 
  • Increased sales and customer loyalty 
  • Operational costs savings 
  • Better financial performance 
  • Greater ability to attract talent and retain staff 
  • Organisational growth 

As more and more companies turn to improve their social standing, it is now a must to invest in corporate social responsibility. This will help to build your reputation as a responsible business, and give you a competitive edge. 

Some simple CSR activities to try: 

Here are some just a few simple practices that you could try to engage in CSR: 

Volunteering – 

Workplace volunteering is a great way to engage with your community and show them that you care, which in turn builds trust. 71% of employees say that workplace volunteering makes them feel better about their employer, and another 92% of people said that workplace volunteering helps develop people and teamwork skills. 

 A few examples of workplace volunteering are… 

  • Working at a local food bank 
  • Cleaning up a local park 
  • Getting involved in an charity walk or run, like the Cancer Research race for life. 

Find out what best works with your organisation and start engaging with your local community. This is an amazing way to start building your brands reputation. 

Environmental Practices – 

This is kind of a big one. With more customers actively seeking ways to become more sustainable through the products/services they pay for, making sure your business has sustainable environmental practises is essential. 

These could be… 

  • Investing in and using renewable energy sources 
  • Promoting recycling and composting at the office 
  • Encouraging “walk or ride your bike to work” days 

By choosing to implement a few small changes to the workplace, no matter how big or small, you can make a big difference to the world we live in. 

Workplace Policies – 

If you’re looking to build more trust within your company and generate a better workplace ethic, a good place to start is by introducing a few policies that your employees can benefit from. 

These might be… 

  • Private healthcare 
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives 
  • Enhanced holiday, or a four day work week  
  • Extended parental leave 

Again, by finding out what works best for your company and employees, you can create a healthy working environment that will encourage a better work ethic, but also attract talented employees to your business.