Why there is more to CSR than just boosting a company’s ego
When a business invests in its community it deserves praise – but it must go beyond that, writes Helen Watson, a trustee at Claire House and partner at Aaron and Partners Solicitors
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the link between a company and the community in which it operates.
As a trustee on charity boards including Claire House Children’s Hospice, CSR for me is a chance to give back and engage with the local community. It is an opportunity to live to the business ethos, values and moral accountability.
CSR can be so rewarding in so many ways. When a company invests its skills and time in projects that benefit from their input, it makes a tangible difference.
From work experience and student placements to charity balls, fundraising bike rides and running challenges, dress down days and cake sales, there are plenty of ways to give back.
It shouldn’t be about a company’s ego at all, but a company that practices good CSR should feel very proud of itself. It’s easy to sit in ivory towers and not invest back, but it takes a bigger man or woman to give up time and resources to support charity initiatives and the wider community.
Businesses, especially smaller ones, rely on the wider community for success and survival. And the success and survival of the community can very often stem from good CSR and the opportunities this can offer.
It is important for businesses to understand what’s going on around them. What may be a small amount of time or money to a corporate could make a huge difference to say a children’s hospice.
It’s key that a company utilises the skills within the business to give something back because they have the opportunity to do so. Giving back could mean developing and training future businessmen or women, or it could mean supporting a hospice and help a terminally ill child for a day or a week, month or year.
If we are fortunate to have skills that can benefit others and make a difference then we should use them to that purpose.
In return, as well as improving a firm’s public image and increasing media coverage, it helps keep a happy workforce in a positive environment – and happy employees equal better results.
There’s little doubt it attracts and retains investors as they are more likely to invest in a business with a strong sense of CSR.
And when companies have invested back into their community, they can promote volunteering and fundraising to their staff, which helps employees with their own personal growth. Not only does it then enforce a positive and productive workforce, it benefits non-profits and companies alike.