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Start-Ups

Embracing Corporate Social Responsibility

By Townes Haas   |    September 2, 2015   |    10:23 AM

What is Corporate Social Responsibility and How Can Your Company Embrace it?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), sometimes called "corporate citizenship", is when a business chooses to evaluate the consequences of their activities on the environment as well as their impact on social welfare and then takes responsibility for these. These activities go beyond the demands made by regulators or environmental protection groups. Furthermore, the measures taken may mean short-term costs for the business, that do nothing to contribute to the profit margins. CSR is engaged in by businesses whose goal is to promote positive social and environmental change.

As a small business there are many ways you can engage in CSR. Although it may seem a hard task for a small business owner with fixed resources and a limited work force to implement CSR, contrary to popular belief you don’t need a huge budget nor a large team of people. So what are the key steps to take?

First of all, determine your CSR program. You might choose to analyze how your small business impacts your community or your environment in ways that you feel are potentially negative and could be improved. You might decide you want to contribute to your area by creating a better environment to live and work in. Some businesses, for example, set up learning foundations to assist and educate the public. Other businesses make monetary contributions, provide resources or labour to local charitable, educational and health-related organizations with the goal of helping impoverished or suffering communities. Some businesses promote CSR through the adoption and promotion of socially responsible behavior. These small businesses use the media and Internet to spread their message and speak out about the potentially harmful activities of organizations. Actions such as these will not only allow your company to be viewed as an asset to your community and environment, but will also promote a positive public profile for your business.

So how do you get your project off the ground? Once you have determined what your CSR program is, set realistic goals. Choose a program that makes sense to your business and its employees. If you and your staff feel strongly about education, animals, or the environment, make sure these areas are the focus of your initiative. If sustainability is vital to your small business then you may choose to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You might chose to focus on multiple areas but do not aim for too much; it is better to start small and then expand.

Secondly, elect a champion. This should be someone within your company who keenly believes in your small business's CSR program and who is capable of getting everyone involved, including the management team. As a small business owner you may feel concerned about allocating staff members' time during working hours to non-profitable activities. However CSR is actually an investment. As mentioned above, your company will receive positive publicity due to its involvement in the local community and/or environment, you might even be invited to charitable events as a consequence.

Measure your CSR achievements and celebrate them as a team. As small goals are achieved this may motivate you to expand your initiative as you see firsthand the benefits to your local community or environment.