Should My Business Be Paying More Attention To CSR?

5 min read

By Laura  Scott

Consultant - Speciality Chemicals

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) comes in many forms. From large-scale fundraisers to simply donating to your local food bank, even small businesses can impact social change.

Why is this important?  Well, as we move towards a new generation of workers, clean energy and sustainability is climbing up the corporate agenda, due to sweeping environmental, social, and business trends.

Indeed, more than half of global consumers say that they’re willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that are committed to having a positive social and environmental impact. This is especially true for millennials and Gen Z.

Being socially responsible doesn’t just make your company look and feel good, it also makes good business sense. Policies that make the world a better place have the potential to increase company revenue, customer satisfaction and reduce staff turnover. 

At CSG Talent we work with a number of clients who have set goals for 2022 and put initiatives in place to become more sustainable, examples include:

  • Striving to achieve zero waste to landfill on all manufacturing sites
  • Sourcing 75% of electricity from renewable sources
  • Utilising at least 70% of renewable ingredients
  • Implementing a zero-waste oil process
  • Ensuring 100% living wage in all operations

But, Do Customers Really Care About Your Environmental Impact?

The Industrial Revolution was good for business. But with this, comes a connotation that businesses cannot be both profitable and sustainable. To be profitable, you must cut costs, burn fossil fuels and pump carbon dioxide (Co2) into the air. However, the world has changed. 

By 2025, millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce. A generation who have been branded as the most socially concerned since the 1960’s. An informed generation who are conscious about human activities and how they contribute to global warming or how ethical big business’ labour practices are. 

According to a CONE Communications’ study, 64% of millennial workers won’t take a job at a company that doesn’t have strong social responsibility practices.

Furthermore, this demographic is also just as concerned about environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices when they make purchases. This can be seen with the plethora of beauty and clothing brands that have introduced ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainable’ lines to meet the demands of this consumer base. 

Consumers feel that when they use a product or service of a socially responsible company, they are doing their part. The more socially responsible the company, the more supportive their local community and consumers become.

“The key is to play to your strengths and keep it local. By developing a CSR programme that involves you using your own assets it keeps the costs down, and by keeping it local you are increasing your profile in a place full of potential new customers and recruits.” (the Telegraph)

How Can My Business Pay More Attention To CSR Whilst Still Being Profitable?

  1. Make social responsibility a key business focus

Make choices that help the environment, employees and communities. A corporation doing this particularly well is Unilever. A quick browse of their dedicated ‘planet & society’ page conveys multiple CSR programs that the company champions. 

In 2010, Unilever introduced its ‘sustainable living plan’ pledging to half their environmental footprint by 2020.

Of its brands that introduced CSR initiatives, such as Hellmann’s Dove and Breyers, they saw a growth rate of more than double compared with those that didn’t. Furthermore, Unilever’s overall employer brand and employee engagement has continued to grow since they introduced their sustainable living plan. 

Certainly, companies who do not make CSR a priority and continue to act in a way that is not sustainable may be putting themselves at risk of fines, litigation and boycotts from a concerned customer base.

  1. Focus on Causes That Align With Your Business

Of course, there is no point pledging your support for sustainable beauty if you’re a corporate business specialising in tech sales. Your customer base will see through this pledge and draw the conclusion that you’re not serious about CSR. 

A great example of CSR alignment is Global coffee giant Starbucks. Starbucks improved their employer branding by announcing that they would only source coffee beans that are grown ethically and sustainably. Moreover, they would only buy from suppliers who promote safe and secure working conditions throughout their supply chains.

As seen in this example, your social efforts should complement your primary mission.

  1. Include Your Employees in Your CSR Efforts

As well as environmental efforts, CSR includes social pledges - a key ingredient of employer branding. Therefore, it is crucial that you include your employees in your CSR efforts.

Companies with robust CSR programmes often attract young and highly qualified candidates who seek to make a real impact on the world through their work. 

Streaming giant Netflix currently offers 52 weeks of paid parental leave to the birth parent and non-birth parent (including those of adopted children). This can be taken at any time whether it is the first year of the child's life or another time that suits their needs. 

In most cases, employees rarely take the full amount of leave they're entitled to. However, the option to do so, combined with the commitment shown by their workplace to their family and subsequent work-life balance, makes employees value their employer greatly.

  1. Shout About It

Use your commitment to CSR for recruitment efforts. Given the choice, most employees want to work with companies that help the outside world. Committing to doing good and actually doing good may be one of the smartest business investments you make.

For example, LEGO recently committed to phasing out single-use plastic packaging for its bricks. Starting this year, they have trialled paper bags in partnership with the Forest Stewardship Council. They are also investing in more sustainable products that create zero waste and are carbon neutral.

LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen said: “We cannot lose sight of the fundamental challenges facing future generations. It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations. As a company who looks to children as our role models, we are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on climate change.”

Indeed, the choices a company makes about its social and environmental responsibilities can profoundly influence its success. At CSG, we’re experiencing an increase in the number of candidates who want to know more about potential employers CSR programs - are they trialling renewable energy sources? Are they visible within the local community and educational programs? 

Without a doubt, how business owners choose to manage their environmental and social responsibility is an increasingly important differentiator for consumers, investors, and most importantly, candidates. 

Simon Gillibrand – Global Head of Natural Resources, Minerals and Metals highlights how this is a big focus for many of his clients:

“At CSG Talent, we’re working with clients who are striving to implement more sustainable processes in 2022. Some of the actions taken include hiring senior leaders within clean technology to support company vision and goals for a more sustainable future, while having the ability to commercialise and increase revenue streams through alternative means. Many clients are keen to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact, some of which have goals to become carbon neutral in the next 20 years.”

If you’re interested to learn more about how CSR or how CSG can help improve your employer branding, contact a member of our expert team today.