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Responsibility = Sustainability! To achieve this, we need to think Globally by acting Locally


With social media vastly increasing global awareness when it comes to social responsibility, there is a greater need for individuals and organisations to get involved and to be accountable. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term that is now widely recognised by companies worldwide.

CSR has so many different definitions and I am often faced with questions on this, such as:

How do we as an organisation even begin to get involved? Will our staff want to get involved and more importantly, will our seemingly small contribution create a greater impact to our communities or environment as well us improving our bottom line?

These questions made me think of John.D Rockerfeller, known to many as the richest man in US history, who said, “Every right implies a responsibility. Every opportunity, an obligation. Every possession, a duty.” This is fundamentally what CSR means to me.

Something interesting I read about Corporate Social Responsibility is that it is a term that was introduced as far back as the 50’s when companies began to introduce this into their business culture, because staff as well as business owners felt the need to give back, specifically when they made a certain amount of profit. Call it moral duty; call it tax relief, either way I believe this need is inherently in our DNA as people.

How do businesses get involved in CSR?

There are quite a few categories of social responsibility that businesses can participate in, more than I will mention here, but to determine which initiative is best, companies must link their CSR initiatives to their vision and values.

A few examples of CSR Initiatives:

Environmental: A core focus for corporate social responsibility initiatives within most companies is the environment. Businesses in every sector have increased their carbon footprint as well as their waste stream. All of this leads to global warming. Any steps that companies can take to reduce those footprints and waste are considered both good for the company and society as a whole.

Community Involvement: Businesses also practice social responsibility by donating their time, efforts and resources to local charities or community upliftment projects.  This not only makes an impact in the community, but also promotes staff engagement.

CSR in the workplace: Creating a working environment that encourages fairness, promotes staff wellness, as well as ethical business practice also demonstrates corporate social responsibility.  A balanced CSR programme focused on the internal environment, as well as the impact a company can make externally is essential.

Successful CSR in my opinion is threefold, it should contribute to business success, make an impact in the world around us, but it should also feed into staff morale and motivation.

Why should businesses get involved in CSR?

At first glance your company may seem similar to all the rest, so what could set you apart and make your company unique, make your company sustainable? Something as seemingly simple as CSR could do just that. Having staff who actively and enthusiastically participate in, or, are involved in CSR, could make all the difference,

Implementing CSR initiatives that support local communities and/or the environment improve brand reputation. CSR can help you engage with your customers as well as staff in new ways. It can even aid your business in retaining new clients and increasing customer retention.

Equally important, creating internal CSR Initiatives, such as Wellness days, as an example, also goes a long way in increasing staff engagement and staff morale. This doesn’t increase a company’s revenue in terms of monetary gain, but it does influence a different kind of gain. A gain in terms of happier, more motivated, enthusiastic and productive staff.

Having a positive brand reputation and happy staff will ultimately and positively affect your bottom line and affect your sustainability! We have experienced these tangible benefits first hand, through our work with Ubuntu Touch Project, Siyaya Skills Institute and Siljeur Leadership Development Trust to name a few.

To quote Rob Feen from Sustainable Business Toolkit, ‘The key is not to treat CSR as an ‘initiative, but to simply view it as the way you do business.’

Author: Fiona Meijer-Innes | 23 September 2015
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