Don’t be frightened off by the phrase Corporate Social Responsibility or ignore it because you think it’s just for large corporates. It’s relevant for all sizes and more importantly an absolute must as a hot topic in today’s world.
Better referred to as CSR, the explosion of information in the media around this topic has created a tsunami of movement that many activists have been waiting for over a long period of time.
I’m not looking to use this article to explain the technical elements of all things relating to social or sustainability. What I want to explore is how relevant is it for small business and how much can you affect it.
CSR involves how a business conducts and interacts with its environment and the local community. It’s not a legal requirement and many business owners are already involved informally to some degree but just not being recognised for it.
Within your business, you may have a passion or cause close to your heart where you spend your time, efforts, money and socialising in your local community. Recycling or reusing materials, selling sustainable or secondhand products, regularly collect product packaging, shredding, or toners for disposal all contribute towards being proactive within your supply chain. You may also support your customers with their ethical beliefs or practices.
Many more customers are beginning to ask questions of their supply chain “where are you on the CSR spectrum?” Consumer demand along with the media exposure is consistently driving this forward like a growing snowball down a steep cliff.
So how can a business demonstrate CSR and what exactly is it? The best explanation I can give you is by briefly introducing an initiative that we have created at Office Friendly.
The initiative is called Weaver. In nature, a Weaver is a bird that builds nests to house hundreds of its species in communities to give protection and security in its natural habitat.
For us, Weaver is a CSR programme for small businesses to use which looks at 5 important areas:
· Carbon footprint
· Sustainable product
· Waste Management
· Single-use packaging
· Social responsibility
We believe that by instilling best practice into these 5 areas within your business you will create a culture with a balanced approach that will give your stakeholders a great view of where you are on the CSR spectrum.
Small businesses have been able to demonstrate, by engaging their teams and showcasing their efforts on websites and marketing collateral, what kind of businesses they are operating within their environment, community, and not forgetting their supply chain.
This has also enabled them to have a different level of conversation with their customers, save money, penetrate new markets, and attract and retain a talented team of engaged people.
Reputation with professionalism is a vision all businesses should continually strive for and CSR is one comprehensive way of showcasing this very well. When done well, it’s meaningful, commercially advantageous and can’t be identified as “greenwash”.
Written by Julie Hawley, Managing Director of Office Friendly.