Corporate Social Responsibility definition: corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. CSR is a concept with many definitions and practices.
Look up Corporate Social Responsibility on Google images, and you’ll presented with an avalanche of images featuring hands delicately holding leaves and small plants. Please be reassured, you’re not going to be opening a garden centre. However, what a programme like this is focusing on the environment around you.
When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes; there’s one for every sized business. What you don’t need is 100+ staff, a sizeable budget, a dedicated department and a theme; you can make just as much impact if you a start-up or if you are an SME.
There’s no right or wrong route for your business when it comes to any community outreach. Supporting your chosen community can have a number of beneficial reasons for your organisation. Let me state this from the off; if you are looking to add to your bottom line from any CSR programme then you are going to be disappointed and, what’s more, you’ll be undertaking your programme for the entirely wrong reasons.
Be creative with your choice
Give it some real thought to the causes you support. If you employ anyone, ask them. If you don’t, consider causes close to your heart and therefore those that will benefit from your interest. Oliver Myles Marketing supports a couple of causes; Wingrave Wasps u9s football club. We bought a new kit for the team and enjoy refereeing at their home games (part of the organisation of the league). We want to support grass roots football and by giving the team the essentials, they can enjoy their Saturday training and matches and, hopefully, enjoy their football for years to come.
We also support MIND and Time to Change and take an active interest in these causes. We’re keen to support charities that help those suffering from mental health challenges in the workplace. As 1 in 4 of us will suffer from such a challenge, we need to look out for one another.
Heart and soul
CSR is about leverage. Leverage as a term is the antipathy of people and emotions that is at the very heart of CSR. However, it serves the purpose for this portion. If you have a team within or if you are a “one-man band”, you’ll need to leverage interest and the willingness of others in your CSR programme. There needs to be a champion as the focal point to cascade successes and the value of your CSR programme; whatever its length. They need to be wholeheartedly behind the project in order for your organisation as a whole to benefit and bask in the accomplishment your cause enjoys.
Make the case
Just because there’s no real room for bottom line benefit, there still needs to be objectives and for it to be part of a plan for the justification to be confirmed and for the feeling of accomplishment – amongst all stakeholders and interested observers – to be realised.
Every SME can benefit their chosen community and, in turn, vice versa. However, as a business, you need to take an active interest in your chosen cause(s). As an advocate of CSR, I would state that it is vitally important to take interest in the cause, visit if you can, encourage your team and colleagues (if there are some) and actively ask for updates.
If you do have colleagues/teams within your business, why not offer a CSR day per year where they go and support the venture? By taking an interest, it gives another angle to your organisation.
Even in your collateral and external comms, include your CSR partnership. Don’t crowbar it in like the forgotten Auntie at Christmas lunch, feature it proudly.
This should not be a dreaded exercise; something that you feel gets in the way. Make time for causes that will benefit from your interest and expertise and enjoy it. Takes images, report on it and you’ll look back on a fulfilling experience for you and your business.