SMEs Are Open For CSR
There is this cliché that identifies Corporate Social Responsibility CSR with large, multinational corporations. Why is this so? Mainly because of following reasons:
- Many initiatives driven by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not have enough resonance, they stay in their own small circles.
- Most SMEs are not aware that they are already carrying out CSR measures of some kind.
- Last but not least, usually SMEs feel lost and do not know how and where to start implementing a CSR strategy. The jargon of CSR is often too entangled and complex for them.
However, not only SMEs can strongly benefit from a sustainable strategy, but sustainability is often part of their company culture, even if they are unaware of it. And one can not fully benefit from something you are not aware of.
The new ISO 26000 standard highlights the fact that it is a guidance addressed to all kind of companies, including smaller ones. However, no matter how useful this document will be, the smallest ones of the class won’t help feeling lost and lonely in the process. In Spain there are several initiatives to support the implementation of a CSR strategy in small and medium businesses:
- Transparencia is a program that has recently been launched by the Catalan chambers of commerce. Here, large companies, such as DKV, Mango or La Caixa act as mentors of smaller businesses (mainly their suppliers), guiding them through the process of becoming socially responsible. This initiatitive is supported by the Global Reporting Initiative.
- RS PYMES (PYMEs is the Spanish translation of SMEs) is a diagnose tool to check if a small company is socially responsible according to 7 different criteria: governance, human rights, environment, fair operating practices, customer issues, community involvement.
- In the NGO I am currently cooperating with, Economistas Sin Fronteras (Economists Without Borders), we are developing a training framework for small and medium companies (also including microenterprises). This project I am proudly leading aims to cooperate with towns and their local development agencies in order to reach SMEs more easily. Local administrations are usually felt as “closer” by citizens and small companies and maybe it’s also the best way to “teach” them the advantages of running their businesses in a more sustainable, socially responsible way. I will keep you updated about this one!
Are you aware of other initiatives especially addressed to SMEs? Why is it allegedly so difficult for SMEs to get the best out of CSR? Or is it not so difficult after all?