In the second of our two articles on CSR we look at whether there are any real benefits to small businesses or whether CSR is a distraction from getting on with your businss.
If you’re a small business owner, it’s all too easy to feel like corporate social responsibility CSR) is only for big businesses – especially as CSR is often portrayed as equalling huge philanthropic donations. But being socially responsible isn’t just about money and having a strong CSR policy it is good for everyone – you, your employees and your community – here are just some of the benefits of being a responsible business.
It can boost your reputation: if you run a small business then chances are, your marketing budget will be pretty small, which is why getting involved in local projects has a two-fold advantage. First – you raise brand awareness, and second – it gives you a point of difference over competitors. The long-term impact to your business can also be invaluable – increasing your network which may in turn open doors to other opportunities.
It can increase your customer base: consumers are becoming more and more concerned about their impact on society and the environment and are turning to brands and businesses that share their concerns. A report by social enterprise Reason Digital, found that 96% of those they questioned agreed it was important for firms to have good social and environmental policies.
Interestingly, the survey also revealed that while CSR was considered to be important, consumers often lacked information about good and bad CSR practices. When you see real engagement by small businsses that make a positive difference to their communities it can lead to all sorts of unseen/unplanned outcomes including:
It can improve employee engagement: doing something for the community often motivates employees, giving them a sense of pride and enabling them to feel like they’re contributing to something worthwhile.
It can help you save money: CSR isn’t a one-way street and investing in social and environmental projects can help your business cut costs in the long term. While larger firms might show their green credentials by generating their own energy, SMEs can make equally meaningful changes on a less dramatic scale. Even small adjustments such as switching off lights or lowering the thermostat by a degree can improve energy efficiency – which is good for the planet and can help lower utility bills.
Similarly, taking the time to train apprentices or getting involved in work experience programmes could help you find your next employee of the year without the expense of recruitment agency fees or advertising costs.
If you are a small business wanting to get more involved in the local community take a look online at charity websites or on social media where organisations often put out a call for support - it's your opportunity to step forward.