Forming community partnerships...
Charitable giving vs internal business practices
Often when people think of corporate social responsibility (CSR), they think of charitable giving - volunteer days employees spend giving back, the charity the company raises money for each year, the annual lump sum donation the company has always made. And this is a part of corporate social responsibility, but it is important for business to recognise that CSR isn't just about external giving, it is also about its internal practices - its employees, its supply chain and its operations. In fact, as consumers are becoming more aware of the need for businesses to operate sustainably and for the benefit of all stakeholders (not just their shareholders), more light is being shed on internal business practices as a key part of a holistic and meaningful CSR programme.
We think a simple way to begin developing a holistic and meaningful CSR programme in your workplace is to break it down into two parts - your community partnerships and your internal business practices. These two aspects still reflect each other - for example, your charitable giving should be reflected in the way you operate your business - customers will notice if you donate to tree planting initiatives but use unsustainable and polluting practices to produce your goods.
When we talk about community partnerships, we are referring to the donation of time, money or resources to charities or organisations. This may be at a local, community level, a national level or an international level. It also may be a one-off arrangement, or more ideally, a long-term partnership that allows the community project to rely on and plan for your support. Typically, businesses will identify charities or organisations they believe align with their business. For example, a locally owned and operated business may donate time and resources to the local school, or a business that makes eyewear may donate time or resources to a charity aimed at improving the eye health of those unable to afford help themselves.
This sort of charitable giving is really important and it can have an incredibly positive effect on a business’ profile, especially when customers perceive the partnership as a genuine match. Companies can also make a genuine and meaningful difference by providing time and resources to charities. Therefore, when your business is considering charitable giving as part of its CSR programme, it is important to partner with a charity that aligns with your business and business practices, and one you can make a difference to.
To find out more about partnering with charities, check out our section on “Approaching Charities.”
Internal business practices..
While community partnerships are a great start, good CSR is also about being a solution to a social problem by operating and producing responsibly. This includes how a business interacts with and treats its employees, its choice of suppliers and how a business operates with respect to the environment.
For example, ensuring equal pay for equal work, paying its employees fair compensation for work done and ensuring there are health and wellness initiatives in the workplace are all ways a company can:
Communicate with employees
Minimise impact on environment
Conscious sourcing and production
Consider customers / employees / suppliers