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What is CSR and why is it important?

CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility.

It is the business practice of self-regulating in order to contribute to society in a positive way. It can mean different things to different businesses, but is broadly speaking about organisations operating ethically, sustainably and responsibly.

The term Corporate Social Responsibility may once have been associated with large, corporate organisations, but it is now something that businesses of all shapes and sizes need to consider as part of their overall strategy.

In practical terms, there are so many things that businesses can do as part of their CSR strategy. In some instances, it may be about formalising positive actions which are already taking place within a company, in others it will be about deciding on and implementing policies to make a real difference.

Typically, CSR should align with the values of the organisation. A good starting point is to look at the business’ values and then at the sensible, practical actions that could have a really positive impact as a result.

Some choose a preferred charity, whilst others offer staff time off each year to carry out work on a community project. Some might even consider the impact they have on their surroundings; for example, is there a way they can reduce noise or traffic to their site which may improve life for those living in the vicinity?

For a café it might be changing their disposable cups to a more sustainable material or encouraging their regulars to bring in a reusable cup instead. Many coffee shops and cafés now offer an incentive to use a non-disposable cup. This is just one example of a CSR policy which might cost a business money in the short term but demonstrates their commitment to minimising their impact on the environment.

Shops might commit to selling Fairtrade products only or not stocking items that contain palm oil or have a negative impact on the environment.

At Moneypenny just one example of our approach to CSR is our charity, WeMindTheGap. Created to offer support and provide opportunities for young women in our local area, the charity helps them access paid work experience as well as life coaching and mentoring. It’s our way of giving back. Find out more about our charity here.

Why is it important?

CSR is important for many reasons, not least because we all have a responsibility to think about the impact we have and the contributions we make. Having strong CSR can have numerous benefits including helping a business to stand out from its competitors, as it can help to build a strong brand and an improved public image.

We live in a time of high customer expectations and increased awareness. Customers understand that their buying decisions can have a wider impact and many are consequently making more informed purchasing decisions. They are often prepared to pay a premium for a product or service if they know that their purchase will have a positive impact on something they believe in.

Employees also want to feel proud of where they work. Knowing and understanding an organisation’s CSR policy can help to engender a loyal workforce. Employees feel more positive about their work and, in turn, the workplace becomes more productive.

Good CSR can also support a company’s recruitment activity. When seeking out career opportunities, people are increasingly interested in ensuring a prospective employer is operating ethically and that their employees are well treated.

If Corporate Social Responsibility is something you haven’t prioritised within your organisation then maybe now is the time. How could you approach it to ensure your business is having a positive impact?

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