CSR & Ethics - Why Should We Care In Business?

Corporate social responsibility, more commonly known as CSR, describes the policies a business adopts in becoming good corporate citizens through contributing to social welfare. Whilst CSR is not a legal requirement, it is definitely considered to be a moral one - an obligation perhaps.

Corporate social responsibility has a positive impact on social, economic and environmental factors and benefits the less advantaged and underprivileged. However, a strong CSR policy improves your company image too. It establishes your brand, giving you a reputation for caring to be socially conscious.

In this article we look at ways in which your business can adopt corporate social responsibility practices and its long term commercial advantages.

Types of corporate social responsibility

Recognising the importance of good CSR procedures, many businesses now concentrate on fulfilling responsibilities within the following four categories:

  • Environmental - Taking steps to reduce carbon footprints, waste, recycling, reusing, etc. Environmental sustainability benefits society and reduces costs for a business.
  • Philanthropy - Businesses can raise money for social causes and charities either through specific fund raising days or through sponsoring local initiatives.
  • Ethical labour - Treating employees fairly with regard to both pay structures and working conditions.
  • Volunteering - Volunteer events demonstrate a willingness to be a good citizen. Businesses which express concern for specific issues and commit to volunteer events portray themselves positively, building a strong ethical image

Adopting corporate social responsibility policies into your business reaps rewards. The initial cost implications for you in either improving the working conditions for your employees, sponsoring local initiatives, etc, will result in many positive advantages for your business. However, it’s important to note that corporate social responsibility should not be seen purely as a marketing drive.

So, why should we care about CSR and ethics?

Market research studies suggest that up to 90 per cent of consumers would purchase a product from a business which supported an issue they cared about. Importantly, 75 per cent would refuse to purchase from a company if they knew it supported issues contrary to their own beliefs. The issue of high street chains importing clothing known to be manufactured in sub-standard conditions, deploying either child labour or poor payment has been highlighted and acted upon by consumers voting with their feet. CSR and ethics are important. Here’s a few reasons why.

Brand Image

As we’ve seen, adopting good CSR and strong ethics has a positive impact on brand image. Businesses which can maintain their reputation, retain customers and suppliers. Consumers who regularly purchase products or services are also likely to recommend them to others. They’re brand ambassadors. Word of mouth marketing is free publicity. Being a CSR champion and promoting good ethics can give your business a competive advantage. Suppliers and financial investors may also prefer to deal with businesses who openly support responsible practices.

Cost Savings

Considering responsible and ethical methods of protecting the environment will also have beneficial cost saving for your business. Reducing business waste, reusing and recycling materials, improving your carbon footprint by lowering utility bills are good examples of this.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

Being a responsible and ethical employer makes it easier to recruit employees and retain staff. Employees gain confidence, learn new skills and bond with team members through participating in CSR initiatives. They like to feel they’ve made a contribution to society, they’re happy and productive.

Corporate social responsibility matters. It shows your employees, your customers, your suppliers and your community that you value your environment, are keen to invest in it and drive positive change. Implemented correctly, your brand, your reputation and your business will ultimately reap the benefits too.

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