While some smaller businesses may overlook corporate social responsibility, there’s every reason to implement it. It’s not just about paying attention to customers and taking stock of the causes they feel strongly about, it’s about bringing consumers closer to businesses.
Paying attention to customers and supporting the kind of causes they are interested in not only benefits brand image, but helps the planet too.
Reducing a carbon footprint and CSR go hand in hand. Openly employing renewable energy methods is essential for the modern SME, and not just because it can save money on running a business, it also lets customers know that the company cares. More importantly, going green reduces the impact of commerce on the environment.
Being associated with any company known for having a poor ecological standing can end up being a PR disaster for business. Cutting ties to suppliers which the public view negatively is a difficult decision, but is often a must.
In the case of Waitrose, for example, talks to expand a partnership with Shell were put to an end after public outcry against the plan.
Shell had previously damaged its public image by a series of attempts to drill in the Arctic, where endangered species were expected to be threatened as a result.
So what makes CSR so important for small businesses?For many key brands, renewable energy is high on the agenda. But it should be part of an SMEs business plan too. Here’s why: For one, generous cash incentives from the government are now available for those who wish to use renewable energy. Known as ‘Feed-in Tarriffs’, this scheme means that businesses installing solar or wind products can claim money back from the government for every kilowatt per hour they produce. Not only can businesses reduce their carbon footprint as they grow, but clean, free electricity can be generated to further power their needs. Recent years have seen a massive growth in companies following a CSR agenda. As part of this, many organisations have chosen to invest into renewable energy projects as well as support charities in the field. One innovative company with a strict CSR agenda is Wales and Scotland-based renewable energy supplier Dulas. One of their key values is to get renewable energy to those who need it most. Supplying solar-powered vaccine refrigerators to remote health clinics across the world is just one example of the energy supplier’s stance on CSR. Business can, and should, play a role in solving environmental issues, and installing solar PV panels or a wind turbine can help businesses deliver change. Companies have enormous power to help switch to greener forms of energy, and schemes like the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards and Greenpeace’s Make It Better campaign, are great examples of the leaders in this field. Good CSR is not just celebrated by customers – it’s recognised by the entire business sector as being an important part of a company plan. By Shané Schutte
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