It’s an increasingly common buzzword, but why should you be doing CSR?
What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) describes ways companies try to behave ethically and contribute to society. It is often associated with environmental action and sustainability. Whilst this is an important element of CSR, it also covers volunteering, charity fundraising and a host of other activities.
Companies can engage in CSR in many ways. Often people assume it’s just donating money to charity. But there are other ways to improve CSR. Encourage staff to get involved in local community or education projects and give them time off to volunteer. Implement travel or energy policies aimed at reducing your carbon footprint. Get the whole team involved with fundraising events.
Why is CSR important?
More and more of us are taking ethics into consideration when are choosing which brands and businesses to interact with. In recent years we have seen boycotts of firms who are seen to be avoiding tax. Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise. David Attenborough dramatically changed the way we think about plastic drinking straws. The Ethical Consumer found that 87% of us make decisions based on social or environmental factors.
It seems it is no longer enough to not be bad. People want to know brands they buy from, companies they work for or do business with are taking real steps to do good. As consumers become aware of these issues, companies need to consider their approach to CSR activity.
If that’s not enough for you and you’re in the UK, then consider the requirements of S.172 of the Companies Act 2006 (yes we’re getting all legal now) in relation to the duty of directors to consider not just the interests of the company, but all stakeholders, the community and environment. Other countries have even more onerous requirements.
So it should be pretty clear, there’s no escape if you’re running a business – CSR is here to stay.
Why CSR is good for business
Last week we organised the return of Expertise Rocks, the little sister of the worldwide success, Law Rocks. The event was a sell-out, raising over £5000 for charity. Whilst this is great news, we hope that our generous sponsors and supporters see much more value.
An event like this can offer more than just a big tick in the CSR box:
- Brand Awareness: sponsors and volunteers were given prominence on the marketing materials, website and social media campaigns. It was great for them to have their logo in lights on the stage.
- Networking: Attendees are relaxed and happy to chat and the bands give you an instant conversation starter. With the room full of people in our industry, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, clients and peers all under one roof.
- Reaching new markets: This event was promoted through a number of channels. This means besides brand recognition. You can reach new potential clients you may never have come into contact with. The volunteers on the organising committee, as well as the charity all promoted the event to their channels. And whilst there is bound to be some overlap, you’re definitely sure to reach some you don’t yet know.
- Team building: for the firms that entered a band, it’s a great chance to get to know your colleagues. Expertise Rocks sees SVP’s performing with document controllers and engineers on stage with the marketing team. A challenge like this can break down the hierarchy of the office.
- And best of all, it’s great fun for everyone involved – if you don’t believe us, take a look at the video of the winners BandSec…
BandSec Perform Live at Expertise Rocks 2018
There has been a tendency in the past for companies to be happy to write a cheque for a good cause. And whilst this can be fantastic for charities needing funding, sometimes we are missing out on some of the other benefits.
Get hands-on and involved. Volunteer, organise a fundraiser or join a committee. Or attend events like Expertise Rocks or The London Legal Walk, you can gain so much whilst still doing great things.
CSR also extends to other things which can have an even more direct effect on the bottom line. Being more energy efficient, reducing waste and doing good can save your business substantial amounts of money, quite apart from making the business a more attractive place to work. Think of all those bright, young millennials you’ll attract with a good CSR policy in full swing…
What can I do?
It may seem like an impossible task to change the whole culture of an organisation but it’s not as difficult as it may seem. The great thing about becoming involved in CSR is that you can start small and still make a difference.
Consider ways that CSR can complement your marketing and BD strategy. Get involved with charities that complement your industry. For us, many of our clients are in the legal field, so partnering with the London Legal Support Trust or The First 100 Years project makes perfect sense. Additionally, organising events is one of our core services. Planning and hosting something like Expertise Rocks allows us to demonstrate those skills. Think about ways you can do something good, whilst also demonstrating the skills and experience of your team.
Whilst we all know we probably should be doing CSR, it can sometimes be less of a priority. If you can demonstrate the benefits that go beyond monetary value you’ll have a stronger case for getting your company involved.