CSR for the people

06/09/2010 at 14:03 4 comentarios

“What is it again that you do?” That’s what my friends and family ask when they want to know more about this strange mix of green, business and “be good” they think I am involved with. Nowadays, that’s exactly one of the biggest challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): We need to explain its meaning and benefits to “normal” people.

Translating CSR into a common language is crucial to make it popular. If we want CSR to become mainstream, we need to present it with easy, understandable words. Very often it sounds like we are talking a cryptic, too jargonized language, like the language of doctors.

I just thought it would be a good idea to write a post blog with examples. I will use examples with small and medium enterprises, which are probably easier to understand for the main public:

  • If you make sure that your employees can balance between professional and personal life, you are being socially responsible. They will be happy and they will end up being more committed to the company. Let’s suppose you have a repair shop with qualified employees. Of course, you pay them a fair wage and all legal requirements are fulfilled, but that’s the law. You will be socially responsible if, on top of that, you give them the chance of higher qualifications, through courses, for example. This will not only improve the quality of your company’s services, it will also make your employees more productive.
  • You are socially responsible if you know your suppliers well and cooperate closely with them. For example, a responsible clothing store controls where the clothes come from. The store selects its suppliers according to how they work, avoiding goods coming from sweatshops, for example. The store can check if its suppliers are reliable and adhere to international labor standards. By extension therefore, if you pick reliable and ethical suppliers, it is less likely that you will have stock problems or delivery delays.
  • Your customers are very happy with the products from your bakery because you offer traditional specialties. But they are even happier because they know you are using only the best ingredients from selected suppliers. Besides, their complaints and suggestions are always taken into account, and they always receive proper feedback. Their suggestions often turn into new, attractive products that bring you higher revenue.
  • Some of the products from your bakery are made with fair trade ingredients. This is good for the communities where the ingredients are made. Let’s suppose that 1% of the sales of these products are intended to finance projects in the community that produces the ingredients. This initiative will in turn attract new customers and promote loyalty for your bakery.
  • Let’s suppose you are a small food retailer. If your grocery store offers local, organic products you will not only guarantee your customers that they will get the best quality, but you will also cut your carbon footprint, thus benefitting the environment and being socially responsible.
  • Let’s imagine you have a bar and you have installed a new insulation system, changing doors and windows. This is a socially responsible action that will not only save scarce natural resources; it will also revert into benefits for your company thanks to lower energy use and higher comfort for your regular customers.

All these activities can turn into higher profit if companies know how to communicate their efforts and turn them into a competitive advantage.  Besides, our work as CSR professionals will be useless if we don’t translate our proposals and ideas into a language that everybody can understand, presenting the benefits of CSR in a clear, simple way.


Entry filed under: Corporate Social Responsibility. Tags: , .

Hammarby, the eco-friendly district in Stockholm Barcelona, European Green Capital?

4 comentarios Add your own

  • […] CSR for the people […]

  • 2. davidcoethica  |  14/09/2010 en 01:36

    I know the subject well!

    After 13 years of CSR and almost 5 specifically with smaller businesses my response nearly always begins with a variation of ‘It’s about being a more profitable business, for you, your shareholders (if any!), your suppliers, your customers and your communities and the environment.”

    The ideal description depends on the person you’re trying to explain to. Everybody has a different understanding of CSR and the trick is to quickly assess their awareness and affinities, then adapt the way you’re attempting to communicate the agenda.

    • 3. Juan Villamayor  |  14/09/2010 en 14:52

      Thanks for your comment, David. Yes, adapting the message (especially the form) is very important.
      Tell me about it! I am preaching CSR among my friends and relatives, they call me the apostle of CSR. And the way I explain it to them is completely different from how I would explain it to a small company or a school, for example…

  • […] (CSR) is just a “corporate thing” intended for big multinationals. However it ‘s clear that also SME’s can profit from CSR activities. Cities should help their citizens (including small companies) to understand and apply the language […]



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Juan Villamayor

Consultor en Responsabilidad y Sostenibilidad Empresarial (RSE). Economista y MBA radicado en Barcelona, con un perfil eminentemente internacional.

Es posible generar más valor mientras se aplican principios éticos. Al final todos salen beneficiados: las empresas, la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Eso es lo que yo llamo "Negocios Con Sentido Común".

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