What's my CSR Strategy?
In the third part of our CSR review, lets think about getting more involved in CSR; here's a run down of what to consider when starting your CSR journey.
Many companies have always sought to be good corporate citizens, with their owners recognizing the importance of 'doing the right thing'.
Many SMEs are committed to environmental and social responsibility, but without thinking of it as 'CSR' - your business may be doing it well without realizing that you have already strated on the CSR journey.
Here's a help you to enable you to better understand CSR, and appreciate how it relates to your business and how you can respond in a more systematic way enabling CSR to be implemented in a more sytematic and sustained way.
It is important to remember that CSR is as much about internal functions as displaying a responsible external image. We'll take you through some practical steps you can take to build your CSR programmes in four key areas- employees, the environment, the supply chain and the community.
First, how do you get started?
Set Your Company Values. The first steps involve you thinking about and probably writing down the values and principles of your the business. For instance, the principle "we respect and value our colleagues" in CSR practice translates into improving the work-life balance of employees or providing excellent training and development opportunities as well as providing a good salary and appropriate benefits. By writing these down you're making the first commitment to making things happen in a sustainable way.
Find Your Champion; You'll need someone who's special baby this becomes in the first stages anyway- starting CSR is challenging as people will have to change long held habits and so the project initiator needs to have the influence to do this. You will need someone with the right profile and commitment who can make the right things happen, in appropriate speed, and keep everyone informed. It makes sense for this to be the business owner-manager (you?) as you have the power to push ideas forward. It is crucial to the success of CSR that other senior company personnel are also committed to your CSR principles. And for CSR to become embedded in the business, employees must 'buy-in' to the concept as they will have to change their work habits to make CSR work. This can be challenging, but can be achieved by ensuring that your CSR efforts are sincere, are relevant to the business and are accomplished through your employees. Therefore make it 'personal' to your employees. They are the ones that have to implement your ideas.
Start to Make A Difference Where You Can. CSR can at first seem like a daunting prospect, since you can't do everything and therefore don't know where to start. It is important that your CSR programme is relevant to your business- this will result in the greatest mutual benefit for all those involved. A good place to start is to look at your greatest level of impact as a company and make a significant difference by targeting your CSR efforts here. You can sonsider internal input related CSR projects to reduce your burden on the earth's scarce resources; do you use a huge amount of water- then start by having a project to reduce or recycle water. Lots of food waste- find out ways to reduce this or ways to better use the waste. Too much energy usage- identify projects to reduce waste. You could look externally- assisting local schools where help is needed, identify underfunded or underresourced charities to support. Identify the areas your customers have an interest in, andenroll their support as well. there are some many areas.... that's why you need focus. As we have said before, check our your lcoal resouces, such as Singapore Compact for Scoial Responsibility (in Singapore) and enlist their aid in difining how you can make a difference.
Your employees are a critical part of your business and an obvious starting point for your CSR efforts.
Having an excellent community involvement programme is pointless if your employees are dissatisfied due to poor pay or conditions. Enable your employees to reach their full potential; if you treat your staff well you will receive excellent work in return. Consider the following...
- Discuss the purpose of your business with your employees. A shared understanding of the business's vision will lead to a more committed, motivated workforce.
- Discuss your employees own goals and objectives with them- how can their work and life needs be balanced with the business's needs?
- Think about the skills you'll need in your business now and in the future and talk to employees about the skills they have and the ones they would like to develop- use this to develop a staff training and development plan.
- Develop management skills- have regular meetings and sharing sessions to discuss performance and other issues, openly review performance daily and weekly, talk to other businesses and business advisors to get ideas and learn how others "do" CSR.
- Commit yourself to maintaining a 'good place to work' and creating a healthy work environment- make it part of your business principles to 'respect and value our colleagues'.
- Consider your approach to learning- for instance, can valuable skills be transferred internally by coaching and mentoring?
- Identify potential risks to staff- particularly concerning health and safety- and work to prevent them.
The environment is a key issue for F&B businesses of any size as food is sourced world wide and some food types (red meat) are a heavy burden on scarce resources. Large companies tend to attract attention in relation to major pollution incidents, or because they dominate the most environmentally sensitive industries such as chemicals, mining and energy, or have heavy uage of water, energy.
But the cumulative environmental impact of our smaller companies can be equally important. Business environmental impacts, from water use to waste disposal, are attracting increasing attention from governments, and pressure groups. At the same time, customers are unlikely to turn a blind eye to your poor environmental performance.
The scale of your environmental impact and the issues that affect you will vary depending on the size and nature of your business. You will be responsible for complying with a range of existing environmental regulations devised to reduce business's impact. Using resources efficiently and reducing waste is also one of the easiest ways of making cost savings and assisting the environment as well. Other benefits include:
- Improving your company's image and reputation.
- Preparing for more stringent legislative challenges in the future.
- Your business will become more attractive to customers, particularly those with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility.
Environmental issues that may affect your business include:
- Resource use- energy (cooking, refrigeration, air-conditioning), water, materials.
- Food sourcing- quality, sustainability, resouces needed toproduce and transport, food waste
- Waste- water, packaging, food waste.
- Emissions- air pollution, effluent.
- Recycling and re-use- bottles, packaging, plastics.
There are two sides to your environmental responsibilities - your legal obligations and the voluntary, pro-active steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment.
- Ensure that you comply fully with all the environmental regulations that apply to you.
- Carry out an environmental risk assessment to identify environmental impacts that need to be managed- check with your local CSR organisation to assist. You need to consider whether harm to human health or damage to the environment could occur due to your operations. Risk assessment involves considering the likelihood and consequences of an adverse effect. Risk management involves identifying suitable and practicable measures to ensure that risks remain acceptable and controllable.
- Apoint somebody to be responsible for environmental management in your company. This could be a dedicated environmental manager, or be part of someone's daily duties.
- Identify the key resources used in your business, for example, do you use a lot of plastic packaging, paper, or water, or speciality imported ingredients? Think about how you could reduce resource use.
- Involve employees in identifying ways to reduce resource use.
- Talk to other similar businesses about the ways they minimise resource use.
- Check out organisations offering environmental business support and advice in your area, through your local CSR organisation
- Identify your main sources of waste, such as food, water, paper, packaging, energy. Think about ways in which you could reduce your waste. All waste costs money. Eliminating or reducing waste will not only benefit your company's bottom line, but also enhance the efficiency of your resource use
- Involve employees in identifying how to reduce waste and to improve recycling schemes.
You may not immediately think of responsible supply chain practices as part of your business's CSR but you can improve your business by listening to, and working with suppliers to strengthen relationships, address supply chain problems and identify new opportunities.
You can use your influence to improve environmental and working conditions within your suppliers and encourage responsible practices. Speak with other F&B Businesses locally to gain momentum for sustainable suppliers. There are a number of benefits from developing responsible supply chain practices:
- Enhanced reputation within the whole supply chain as a company that is good to do business with.
- Help to create better more CSR friendly products systems and services from suppliers by giving them feedback.
- Working closely with your supply chain can help to design out waste and inefficiency from products and services.
- You can spread the load of CSR activities by working with suppliers and other F&B businesses too
- Listing your suppliers and identify possible issues in your relationships with them.
- Define your approach to these issues (what do you wish to focus on, and why; and how do you think the supplier can help) and communicate it to suppliers.
- Build confidence by meeting needs and maintain high standards on essentials like paying suppliers and ordering goods on time.
- Develop long-term, mutually respectful relationships with suppliers. In this way you can develop better products and services with them. Ask if your suppliers have ISO certification and follow HACCP proceeduresso you can be assured of their commitment to quality. These approaches also have a CSR component embedded into their systems.
- Learn from your suppliers approaches to CSR.
Businesses and communities need each other; there is a clear connection between a healthy and profitable business and the well being of the communities in which it does business. You will be supporting your community by being profitable and successful and by providing employment, but you can go further than this, and by using your influence in a positive way - how you engage with your local community, how you treat your employees, you can enhance the benefits that you bring to society.
Getting involved with your communities can benefit your company in a number of ways:
- It will help improve your image and reputation and build trust and understanding with your communities.
- It will help improve your profile and may boost networking opportunities, which may lead to new business opportunities.
- Involving your employees in community initiatives can be used as part of staff training and development, leading to increased employee satisfaction and motivation.
- Community initiatives can help employees to develop new skills and enhance existing ones.
Start by thinking about
- Seek to 'make a difference where you can' i.e. what is your business's greatest impact and how can you use this to make a positive difference in your community?
- Channel your community initiatives through your employees and their interests too.
- There are many other ways you can get started with community involvement:
- Sponsorship e.g. a community event or sports team.
- Charitable donations e.g. you can sponsor a charity that is particularly meaningful to you or give your employees money to donate to charities of their choice.
- Provide excess materials to schools and community groups
- Donate outdated equipment, such as computers and office furniture, to charities and community groups.
- Allow charities, community groups and other organisations to use your company facilities e.g. photocopier, meeting rooms.
- Donate a certain percentage of your profits to charity; see for example Business in the Community's PerCent Club.
- Offer your services pro bono to the community i.e. give your time and expertise for free to projects that benefit the community. Business in the Community's ProHelp Network is available for advice and support.
- As a means of formalising your community initiatives you could write a community involvement policy that sets out your business's commitments and reinforce your committment to your staff.
The CSR journey is a long one, and if approached in the right way is beneficial to your, your tea, your business, your customers , suppliers and community and the rest of the world. Doing your bit will make CSR more acceptable to your peers and enable a sustainable approach to CSR in your community.
ideas sourced from here