Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Is your Business Socially Responsible?

The 7th Annual Responsible Business Summit gets underway today at The Park Plaza Hotel in London, with attendees from companies such as: Cancer Research UK, CIPD, HSBC, IBM, ITV, Levi Strauss, Masterfoods UK, Nokia Corporation, Oxfam, PepsiCo, Save the Children, and Starbucks.

As with previous years, there will many informative speeches made on topics including “Corporate Responsibility as a driver for innovation and opportunities,” and “Engaging your employees in CR: How to make it work,” with the aim to inform and excite executives from medium and large corporations, non-profit and government agencies on the need for Corporate Social Responsibilty.
While these type of conferences are geared mostly towards large corporations due to the cost involved in attending, the ideas and ethics behind it need to be passed down to companies of all sizes.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may seem like something only large corporate companies such as Microsoft and O2 can build into their company ethos, as they have the resources to do so but it should be an important part of every businesses strategy.

So what is CSR?
CSR is the blend between business and society, where businesses voluntarily take on their ethical responsibility to contribute to community and society at large. This can be anything from quality of life in the workforce and employee rights, environmental issues, work within the community and job creation.

So what do you do?

It seems hard to think of ways that small businesses can support CSR when there is little expendable cash available but here are some ideas that with improve your company and your immediate community, without sacrificing company profits:

  1. Give a student a chance by offering work experience through a local Secondary school.
  2. Hire someone local to do jobs such as office cleaning, window cleaning, gardening, or deliveries.
  3. Recycle – contact your Borough and make sure that you are doing all you can to minimise waste in your area. This includes paper as well. If possible, don’t print it.
  4. Turn off lights when possible. No one should be working all night!
  5. Work business-to-business with other companies in your local area; this will support growth in the community.

It is apparent that most of the companies that are leaders in their fields (whether small, medium, or large) are also leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility. The two go hand-in-hand, just like Business and Society.

Get involved in your community and you’ll be surprised at the impact it will have on other areas of your business. It is up to you to socially aware- it’s what any innovative business would do!