David Saul, managing director of Business Environment, leading serviced office operator, examines the business benefits of making
CSR central to strategy
Businesses refocusing their priorities beyond profit and towards the welfare of their suppliers, employees and the planet is increasing. However, there are still those that see CSR, Corporate Social Entrepreneurship, as a waste of time and money, with intangible results and little return on investment.
There’s a danger that with the difficulties that the economic climate brings, CSR is being put on the back burner. I am a firm believer that building a positive reputation within your sector and with the local and wider community can matter just as much as what you produce or sell.
Last month a study was carried out in the U.S. by the Reputation Institute to find out which companies had the best reputation. Interestingly, people’s willingness to recommend, work for, or invest in a company was driven 60% by perception of the company compared to 40% by the perception of the product.
My point stands that building a company groundwork that consists of being ethical and generous to its community can have bigger effects than it may initially seem. In this same report, Microsoft came out on top as having the best CSR strategy. They put it down to implementing a local citizenship scheme and working daily in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders on issues important to local communities.
Last year, the company saw a $3.76 billion increase in revenue on the previous year’s. This is obviously due to a number of factors and not solely the product of the CSR programme, however, CSR strategies are clearly having a positive impact, positioning Microsoft as a company that can be trusted.
Of course, not every business has the resources to drive change and build a reputation through CSR in the same way as Microsoft. It is an expensive process – educating consumers, altering manufacturing and technology, and ensuring employees are on board.
What Microsoft has done is show that making CSR central to your business strategy can have a tangible effect on the bottom line.
Every company, wherever it is based, has an impact on the wider community and therefore has a responsibility to this community. At Business Environment, we have put CSR at our core, making sure that we evaluate each process so it has become part of each day-to-day operation.
We believe in the importance of employees, the environment and supporting our customers and their businesses. We work to keep our employees continuously consulted and educated on the company’s values and goals, to ensure they are embedded into the company culture.
Our Green Team identifies where we can become more environmentally friendly and finds fun ways to keep people engaged in the debate. Similarly, while we have three principle charities, all employees are also given three days paid leave each year to volunteer for a charity of their choice. This has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from both our employees and the charities they support.
What’s more, we’ve found that CSR is becoming increasingly important to customers as they seek out companies that are not just ‘in it for themselves’. By being able to show your customers and prospects the work you do, you may just be about to seal the next sale. The benefits of CSR are there for the taking.