In brief - Businesses can be socially responsible without
Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of
contributing meaningfully to the community and learning how to
integrate corporate responsibility (CR) into their business models,
contributing meaningfully to the community while maintaining
Adopting corporate responsibility may give your business a
Although innovative products, price point or even convenience
are all vitally important to gaining a competitive edge, using your
resources, skills and profits to help communities in need may give
your business a competitive advantage.
The corporate responsibility concept (CR, and also known as
'CSR', corporate social responsibility) helps businesses
respond to the ethical, legal, environmental and social
expectations of their stakeholders, while at the same time helping
them achieve their economic imperatives. Underpinning CR is the
notion that companies can, and should, do their part to make a
meaningful and positive contribution to the community.
CR combines business management tools, such as global reporting
guidelines, governance, risk management processes, supply chains,
labour standards, reduction of carbon emissions and anti-corruption
measures, with philanthropy, such as volunteering, fundraising,
donations and community engagement.
Responsible and sustainable business valued by employees and
CR is swiftly becoming mainstream for forward-thinking
businesses. One of the key drivers has been the development of the
global community, greatly assisted by the rise of social media
which has brought together citizens advocating for people and the
planet. Their concerns include climate change and adaptation, food
and water security, increased global tensions and the ever present
divide between rich and poor. This global community is being pushed
along by the next generation of employees and consumers who are
acutely in tune with responsible and sustainable corporate
Against that backdrop, a well structured, carefully coordinated
and well executed CR program can bring a business a great many
competitive advantages such as:
Crucially, beyond competitive advantages, CR programs have the
ability to make a huge and lasting impact on communities.
How do I structure my company's CR program?
CR programs need to be properly structured and led from the
Resources and personnel - resource your CR
program properly and employ the right sized team to lead the
Stakeholder engagement - identify who your
internal and external stakeholders are and consider how your
company's activities affect them.
Policies and procedures - get your house in
order. Ensure your suite of policies addresses key areas of risk,
including health and safety, supply chain management, environmental
and community impact and anti-corruption.
Reporting - integrate your strategic plan with
your policies and procedures and link them with the legal, ethical,
social and environmental imperatives of your stakeholders. Then
track and report on performance.
Community investment - give back to your local
community as well as your workforce. The options are unlimited but
should be closely aligned with your core business. Use your
existing competencies for the betterment of the community. Donating
funds is one way to make a significant contribution, but also
engage your people through volunteering, fundraising and awareness
Triple bottom line approach endorsed by the United Nations
CR must help, not hinder, a business, so it is important that CR
fits with your company's needs, capacities and priorities and
doesn't impede its economic viability. The United Nations
advocates for the "triple bottom line" approach, which it
recognises as a successful tool for meeting social and
environmental concerns without reducing competitiveness.
According to the website of the
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO):
"The perspective taken is that for an organization to be
sustainable, it must be financially secure, minimize (or ideally
eliminate) its negative environmental impacts and act in conformity
with societal expectations."
On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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