SMEs Are Open For CSR

01/08/2011 at 11:52 4 comentarios

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?

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

The Seven Joys Of Sustainability CSR: An Evolving Concept

4 comentarios Add your own

  • 1. Phil Knox  |  01/08/2011 en 12:36

    Interesting quote on triplepundit.com found while looking up ISO26000: ‘According to ISO 26000, social responsibility is not merely a “neutralizing” action applied at the end of production/distribution to fix what has been generated or displaced. Rather, it is a proactive mind-set that should be incorporated across all levels of planning, execution, and stakeholder interaction.’

    Part of the issue with SME’s is finding the imperative to bring any CSR strategy into a formalised plan and reporting mechanism. As mentioned in this article, it may be something that is already implemented within the company but not nessescarily as a distinct strategy. I wonder if there is an English-language equivalent of the PYMEs tool you higlight?!

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    • 2. Juan Villamayor  |  01/08/2011 en 14:25

      Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with the idea of CSR being a mind-set and not just an add-up.
      I am not aware of an English version of the CSR diagnose tool, I just know the Spanish one…
      Cheers, Juan

      Responder
  • 3. Frank Van Damme  |  03/08/2011 en 13:34

    Elaine Cohen tweeted about this post (http://elainecohen.visibli.com/share/1ZtqVk). Overhere in Belgium, we’re trying to pass on the same message: CSR and CSR reporting (following GRI-standards) are certainly within the reach of SME’s (KMO’s as they are called in Flanders or MKB’s in Holland). Although we only have a Dutch version have a look at http://www.duurzaamheidsverslaggeving.be. The baseline says: step in at your level. We’ve also developed online scans (aimed at companies big and small on the one hand and municipalities on the other hand).
    It’s so true: small companies and organisations often practice CSR before they realiize it, keeping beautiful examples of what’s possible a secret.

    Responder
  • […] These are some of the opinions I have to counterback when I explain sustainability to friends, relatives or even owners of small businesses. Most of them look at me skeptical and surprised. Their looks say “Small businesses have enough to do trying to survive in the current situation, they dont have time to think about social responsibility or sustainability”. However, the expression on  their faces changes as soon as I start talking about the benefits of a sustainable strategy for a SME. SME are in fact open for CSR, as I explained in a previous post. […]

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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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