How can companies re-invigorate their Corporate Social Responsibility Policy and ensure it is relevant today?
We consider some example of Corporate Social Responsibility at work in the community, and examples of initiatives your company could get involved in.
CSR can bring benefits in terms of reputation building, which can influence customer perceptions, customer relationships and the attractiveness of a company to potential high flying employees.
It may even help companies to access capital. It almost certainly serves to hone their competitiveness.
Company executives can benefit from working with the disadvantaged sectors of the community, helping them to keep in touch with their market, and focus their communication skills.
Getting involved with the community
In an evolution of CSR strategy, forward thinking companies are increasingly helping to support poorer communities in areas that could one day become rewarding markets for them.
Some companies are now refocusing their CSR strategy, to make their business work in a way that benefits society as well as delivering profit. In the early days of CSR policy, companies would perhaps fund a school or a sports hall, but not get involved directly with the community.
Now they might dispense advice and support, or even funding to the budding entrepreneurs in the community, perhaps making desk space available in their offices, or recycling IT equipment to them, or offering business and marketing advice and mentoring.
So the focus has evolved from corporate donations to charitable organisations, to a hands-on practical sustainable approach, with involvement in specific tangible projects, with the objective of helping disadvantaged communities to build a better future for themselves.
This in turn helps to establish a positive market presence, more consumers, and in particular loyal consumers, as the members of the communities become financially independent.
Examples of CSR initiatives
SAB Miller, the brewing giant, are helping some of the 700,000 small retailers selling their product in Latin America to become more competent business owners. Although not an economic decision, it is not entirely altruistic. Over the long term it will benefit the company if they have a team of distributors who have robust businesses, and pay them back financially as well as being perceived as humanitarian. It is a long term plan though, slow burning, and will require strong leadership and commitment from the Board to see it through.
Coca- Cola have launched projects to help dispense lifesaving drugs to villages in remote parts of Africa.
Other types of CSR initiatives include;-
- Environmental issues such as reducing carbon footprint, or ethical waste management.
- Donating directly to charities or supporting them with staff time or resources.
- Some companies donate a percentage of their profits directly to charities.
- Fair trade is a well-known example of CSR, as is organic.
- Ethical labour policies, particularly in developing countries.
- Some companies allow staff to take extra time off for volunteer work.
- Others encourage numeracy and literacy schemes with local schools.
- Customers may be offered the opportunity to make a charitable contribution at the checkout, in store or online.
The business case for a company writing a CSR policy is very strong, and the company does not have to be a multinational to participate. Small companies and even “one man bands” can make an effective contribution to the planet with a little forward thinking and commitment.