CSR? We answer your questions.
What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, incorporates many different areas of commercial activity, reflecting the individual activities and objectives of a business. What unites all CSR is a recognition of the broader social influences and responsibilities of a business’s conduct, and in response implementing standards and initiatives which add value to both the business and the wider social context it operates within.
Other terms describing CSR, or initiatives which fall within its definition, include Creating Shared Value (CSV), Corporate Sustainability, Social Investment, Local Content, and Corporate Citizenship.
A strategy for better business
One way to view CSR is as a long-term business strategy, promoting sustainability via investment in the broader social and economic situations in which the business operates.
This may be for benefits as simple as growing morale within staff and suppliers, cutting costs, or promoting the business’s values to consumers. The growing importance of CSR within smaller businesses is to an extent a reflection of consumer behaviours, for example 86% of consumers like buying products from companies ‘that give something back to society’ (source).
Often CSR, especially for large corporations, is part of a wider strategy to promote social and economic progress, and protect resources, infrastructure and potential for growth.
In today’s climate it is hard to avoid the signs that good business is good business. Speaking at the Sedex 2016 Supply Chain conference, business sustainability expert Elaine Cohen, summarises the importance of CSR perfectly, stating, “Doing business in a sustainable way is not a loss but investment that pays off sooner or later.”
What is the scope of CSR?
The ways in which CSR can be incorporated into a business model are as diverse as businesses themselves, unique to each individual organisation. Traditional areas of focus within CSR, incorporating considerations of socio-economic impact, ethics and sustainability, include:
- Employees: Introducing policies, support and benefits which contribute to employee’s professional development, wellbeing, social contribution, and understanding of brand values.
- Supply Chain: Supply chain focus includes approaches to ethical questions within a business’s supply chain, such as human rights or fair trade, ethical treatment of suppliers, and cultivating effective, fairer supply chains for the future.
- Industry Challenges: Investing in overcoming challenges unique to the industry a business operates within, such as skills shortages, policy change or technology gaps. For example support for education, R&D or infrastructure, can support the sustainability of an industry, and create socio-economic value within communities it is connected to.
- Regional/Community Challenges: Investing in overcoming challenges specific to the regions a business operates within, such as social problems, education gaps, and infrastructure.
- Environment: Minimising the environmental impact of the business, or contributing to positive environmental change.
- Risk Mitigation: Upholding an ethical conduct that will withhold public scrutiny minimises the potential for negative publicity and damage to consumer and stakeholder relations.
- Legal or Stakeholder Compliances: Businesses with specific legal requirements or commitments to stakeholders, such as supply chain sourcing or environmental restrictions, implement CSR to help them achieve compliance in a sustainable way.
- Social Contribution: Many businesses simply wish to make a social contribution, often adopting a specific cause or social challenge to invest profits in, such as access to water, healthcare, poverty, disaster relief, or education.
What is the PNE Group approach to CSR?
PNE Group believes CSR empowers businesses and organisations to contribute socio-economic value whilst supporting their own business objectives. Implementing thoughtful CSR within any business, whether you operate at a single desk or across continents, contributes to a world in which people, industries and communities have access to greater opportunities and fulfil their potential. This is why PNE Group work closely with companies who share their vision for achieving real change through enterprise.