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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a way for businesses to address their overall impact on society and move towards more ethical policies that support the local community, society, and environment.
Although CSR, also known as corporate citizenship or sustainable business, is a more recent term in the world of business, the concept behind it is certainly not new – throughout history, businesses have worked to improve their social and ethical impact.
CSR often involves organisations assessing their current stakeholders and evaluating their responsibilities to their employees, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment. CSR helps businesses to move forward with policies that strive for the greater good of society. Many businesses choose to consider the main areas that are of concern to their organisation and design new initiatives to improve relationships within local communities, and between their employees and customers. By putting new practices in place that encourage ethically and environmentally responsible activities, business activities are balanced out by support for local communities, individuals and environments.
Practicing good corporate social responsibility is not only important to society and the environment but is beneficial to businesses too. Great CSR policies can be an effective way for businesses big and small to differentiate themselves from their competition. A strong sense of corporate social responsibility will distinguish one business from the other, in the eyes of the consumer as well as investors. Tell-tale signs that CSR practices are in place and are working include happy employees and happy customers. When businesses place an increased focus on social responsibility, their ethical and sustainable considerations may lead them to become a frontrunner in their industry. This is due to better reputations that make a business more attractive for investment and funding.
Good CSR policies can also have a positive impact on sales. Many reports have shown that customers are more likely to buy from a company that actively takes action to improve society. As more and more consumers become educated about sustainability and caring for the environment, they are more likely to shop with an organisation that provides them with peace of mind. Consumers also respond better to organisations that are open and accountable.
How companies are executing CSR policies
When it comes to the steps businesses can take to put corporate social responsibilities into action, there is a wide range of directions available to take. This can range from steps to reduce their carbon footprint, improve their labour practices, participate in Fairtrade, charitable giving, and volunteering in the community. Businesses might also establish policies that benefit the environment, or they might choose to make socially and environmentally conscious investments.
On a global scale, TOMS is a company with several well-respected CSR policies. The company famously donates a pair of shoes for every pair that they sell. So far, they have donated over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. TOMS also uses its profits to provide prescription glasses, medical treatments, and safe drinking water to people in need all over the world. They also advocate for anti-bullying campaigns and work with renowned NGOs to set an example for ethical behavior.
On a UK scale, Thorntons is not only a company that prides itself on creating premium chocolate but giving back to society with CSR initiatives too. Thorntons actively supports a range of charities, encouraging staff to volunteer and engage in fundraising projects. Its key charity partner is Smile Train, one of the world’s leading cleft lip charities. Thorntons is also dedicated to recycling via integrated waste management policies, reducing its electric and gas use each year, and committing to reducing onsite waste.
Exemplar Education is a company that works to help parents provide their children with the best possible maths and English educational support. Exemplar Education has a longstanding relationship with World Vision UK, supporting its work all over the world since 2009. One of their CSR policies is to involve teams and employees in large fundraising projects. This is evident in their previous involvement in #TeaChallenge, with Exemplar Education raising 54,000 liters of clean water across their six UK offices. More recently, team members and employees have been fundraising with a 6k run for World Vision UK.
Greggs is one of the largest bakery chains in the UK, and they also offer a well-rounded CSR policy. One of their initiatives is the Greggs Foundation, through which employees and customers together raise funds to support community projects. Another initiative is the Greggs Breakfast Club, a means for Greggs to contribute to UK school breakfast clubs and give something back to communities. They also work with several other external charities, including BBC’s Children in Need.
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