Friday, November 27th, 2020

CSR – Not Just for Big Business!

By Catherine Rocheleau on Aug 28 2012 • Filed under Marketing

Corporate Social Responsibility and Small Business (Photo: Jakub Krechowicz)I have always been interested in the reasons businesses implement social responsibility programs within their organizations. In November 2011, my article, 3 Facets of Business Sustainability, discussed the three areas where business owners should focus their attention to be better able to respond to social, environmental and business priorities. 

When I started my business over 20 years ago, I looked for ways to link my personal value to “give back” with my business operations. When awareness of “green” initiatives came to the fore I was intrigued but struggled with how this could be incorporated into my operations.
On a personal level, my involvement has included board participation, walking 60 kilometers, chairing an annual barbeque for less privileged children and their families, door-to-door fundraising activities as well as making annual charitable donations. This desire to give-back has expanded into my business in a transparent way. I have also established goals and a regular review system for environmental initiatives and I monitor my own profitability monthly.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined by the Canadian Government as “the way companies integrate social, environmental, and economic concerns into their values and operations in a transparent and accountable manner.” CSR has generally been associated with large corporations and most small businesses fail to see a connection with CSR and their business operations. According to V. Kasturi "Kash" Rangan, the Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School, "of all the companies involved in CSR, the majority of them are not doing it effectively."
Your CSR Strategy
If you want to implement a corporate social responsibility program for your small business, take the steps to do it right. Not every initiative in your CSR strategy must be linked to your core business strategy, although, you should have a clear idea what actions you are taking and what the desired outcomes are.
A CSR strategy should have two key goals, according to Kash Rangan.
1. Positive Social Impact
2. Enhance the company’s brand, reputation, employee morale and/or your bottom line.
A CSR strategy is one of the most successful steps you, as a business owner, can take in creating forward momentum in this area. Like your business strategy, a CSR strategy will unify the different areas of your social, environmental and business activities in a way that defines the goals and outcomes of the activities undertaken. It will also enable you to clarify why you are doing these activities.
Moving Forward
  1. Set Your business objectives for the Year.
  2. Prepare three social responsibility goals for your business that will ultimately help you achieve your top business objectives.
  3. Align these social responsibility goals with your core competencies (what you do best).
  4. Risk mitigation and opportunities for the future should be integrated into your strategy and into management systems.
  5. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) should be established to measure the impact of your CSR efforts. 
Are you ready to take the first step? What focus will you take in your CSR strategy?

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