CSR for Smaller Business – Getting Organised

CSR for Smaller Business – Getting Organised

A few months back I decided to summarise Coethica’s experiences of supporting smaller business using CSR to help their bottom line. 

The idea at the start was to demonstrate how you can quickly and inexpensively add value to your business by using concepts found within the CSR agenda.

The suggestions have been practical, easy to understand and requiring minimum financial and time investment. I’d like to bring it all together to begin to look at a more strategic approach and widen your business radar. This is where the real value of being an ethical and responsible business lies.

Initiatives are great but by understanding the bigger picture a little more you can start to embed a more efficient and profitable ethos across your company, your supply chain and to your customers.

The previous posts focused on:

10 Top CSR Tips

Environment

Suppliers

Community Engagement

Employees

Communication 

To take your own CSR journey to the next stage you need to begin to properly coordinate your efforts:

Step 1

Create an internal working group of enthusiastic and talented people. Ideally you would include combinations of the following formal responsibilities dependant on your organisation; A senior manager (Chief Executive or Managing Director), financial, health & safety, human resources, and marketing.

In addition to these formal roles you would benefit with people with the following skills, experience or passions: Environment, charities / non-profits, people (company gossip can be a good choice – but be careful!), AND somebody from the coal face of your company i.e receptionist, warehouse, sales floor, call centre, etc (great opportunity to identify and nurture talent).

Even if your group only has two or three of these don’t worry it’s a start.

Step 2

Ensure the company has a realistic value / mission statement. If not, create one.

This is important as you need to be able to demonstrate your motives. It will also help you formulate your plan. It can be as simple as a list of keywords or short sentences important to the business, even the over used ones like honesty, integrity, people focused, transparency, eco-friendly, accessible, good neighbours. Pick those that are genuine and applicable both internally and externally.

Step 3

Get the group to list all potential commercial risks and opportunities (maybe already available) and then look again through environmental and social eyes to explore any missed or undervalued issues.

Step 4

Prioritise stakeholders, issues and appropriate training for your employees.

Step 5

What would you call success in 6 months? Set basic targets, i.e. measure energy saved / used, record volunteer hours, log media coverage, cost reductions, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, productivity, accreditation etc. Choose data that is relevant and appropriate to your plan and your business.

Step 6

Get on with it for 6 months (maybe a bi-monthly working group meeting to start with?) Keep basic records that you will find useful to measure your return on invested time and finance but don’t get hung up on too much detail for now. Just do it.

Step 7

Evaluate what worked and what wasn’t as successful, review and start again from Step 2.

Step 8

Enjoy benefits and communicate all the way along!

As you become more organised and attempt to better manage your environmental and social impacts you’ll need to look at additional investment of time and money. Like any other commercial decision always use a return in investment approach, BUT try to use longer term planning periods and consider the bigger picture. It really isn’t all about the money.

I’d also love to hear from those that have used these suggestions and the benefits you’ve seen. Send me an email direct to david.connor@coethica.com