Corporate social responsibility (CSR): it sounds like something that belongs to massive industrial behemoths, doesn’t it? Yet, I’d argue that CSR is for all of us and that even the smallest of businesses can embrace the principles of CSR and that the benefits are wide ranging for your business and for your community.
What does CSR really mean?
Corporate social responsibility means taking responsibility for the impact of your business on the society around you. Most importantly, it means doing this in a practical and sustainable manner. It’s not enough to talk about this as an objective, you have to do something to show that your business will have a positive impact on the world around you. The good news is that there are some real benefits for doing so.
The case for CSR in smaller businesses
If you want a business case for introducing CSR into your small business, here goes:
Creativity leads to profits
That “green dollar” you hear about? It’s not imaginary money. The public spends cash on things it perceives as environmentally friendly. In some cases, it will even pay a premium for such things. If you pursue a CSR strategy; one of the first things you might want to ask is “how can we make our business more environmentally friendly?”
Reducing water wastage in processes, eliminating energy wastage by updating bulbs in all your units and so on. They all lead to a reduction in costs. That’s money in the bank. You make the world nicer to live in and earn more money. Can’t beat that right?
Creativity breeds creativity
All the effort that you spend on creating solutions that are environmentally responsible isn’t wasted either. It’s well known that creative thinking flourishes in environments where such thinking is encouraged. The more often you solve CSR problems, the more often that you will solve other problems in your business too. That should also lead to more money. See where this is going yet?
CSR gives you brand differentiation
When a client says, “why should we go with you rather than [enter name]?” Wouldn’t it be nice to say, “because we’re actively involved in supporting our community and your community. Some of the money you spend today will be used to make all of our lives brighter?” You may not be able to tell the difference between two bottles of water but if one of them spends some of its profits on creating solar energy and the other doesn’t, you have a reason to prefer one over the other.
CSR leads to long-term thinking
You’re not trying to raise your share price as a small business owner. You’re trying to make the best possible living that you can. Long-term thinking brought about through active CSR approaches means that you can start to ensure profits for decades to come. The savings of switching to LED lighting, for example, are paid back over nearly 20 years. You also get to think about your long-term place in the community you serve. How can you do better?
CSR gives you new opportunities to engage customers
You don’t need to be quiet about doing good things either. Each time you do something that works well in your CSR program, you have something to tell the world about. Show your customers, via press releases, your blog, TV, whatever, that you care about their environment. Engage with them on the issues of the day.
CSR gives you a chance to engage employees too
Your employees will play a big part in your CSR strategy and it’s a chance to give them something to think about beyond their “day job.” Studies show that engaged employees stay with their employers and grow with them.
I believe in CSR because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing for me as a person to make the world better. It’s the right thing for my community because I reap the benefits of a better and more sustainable world. It’s the right thing for my business because it makes it more competitive, reduces costs and increases profits. It’s a win-win for everyone. Isn’t it time you did the same for your business?
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