Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that arose in response to the irresponsible behaviour of large companies in the thirties, which had an impact on the Great Depression. Since then CSR has been associated mainly with large companies and some theorists are still sceptic if it can work for SMEs.
However, based on current development, this judgment has proven to be incorrect. If social responsibility is part of the core SME strategy, it brings clear benefits.
In Europe 99,8% of all companies belong in the category of SME (micro, small, middle enterprises). In the Czech Republic the number is nearly one million (99,9%). For comparison, there are about 1 400 large companies (0,1%). SMEs are therefore significant due to their enormous influence on economy, employment, social cohesion and local development.
- They are dynamic but also maintain the stability of the economy.
- The size, composition and quality of staff, including work-life balance, is important.
- They are generally involved in the quality of peoples’ life in the community and their employees.
- They have a social-political structure.
What is the motivation and benefits of CSR?
An easy question, but the answer is harder. For sure, the owner values and currently the growing interest of stakeholders in the company's reputation play an important role. CSR has a huge impact on company’s reputation. Significant motivators include employee satisfaction, their motivation and customer loyalty. The company is becoming part of the local community and at the same time is strengthening relationships with others. There is an opportunity to gain a new segment of customers and a competitive advantage, to consolidate the corporate brand and bring the company in line with European trends and regulations.
It is important to emphasize that CSR is not charity, but a company strategy that is an integral part of the organizational culture. Ethics, value system and moral aspects that are reflected in organizational culture are of big importance. In essence, it should be absolutely natural that CSR is an integral part of companies. This can be seen especially with millennials, who are behaving more and more ecologically and are looking for meaningful work. In addition, they require an employer who is actively interested in social responsibility. Employees are therefore one of the most important drivers of CSR in companies, and it can be inferred that the status of CSR will improve.
Human sources are crucial for the stability of companies. Fluctuation is a huge problem, so it is extremely important to take care of employees, and if social responsibility is important to them, the topic must be obviously vital for managers. Satisfied employees who find meaningful goals in their company will probably have no reason to leave. Then it is also useful and profitable to invest in their education, benefits and involve them in CSR activities, for example through volunteering, but also by letting them come up with new CSR ideas.
Large companies for which CSR has become commonplace are often also clients and partners of SMEs. If small and medium-sized companies want to keep their customers in the future and be successful in international tenders, CSR will be a necessity for them.
What are the barriers of CSR?
On the other hand, everything has disadvantages. Surveys show that the biggest barriers are lack of time and extra costs. Another problem is that companies don’t have enough information and they don’t know the benefits of CSR. Also bureaucracy is a burden.
Companies say that it would be very helpful if government ensured cases of good practices and provided more comprehensible and clear information about how SMEs can put CSR into practice. Furthermore, CSR should be legislatively established and everything should be transparent.
Recommendations for easier implementation of CSR:
- Government support in implementing CSR activities (primarily financial and informative)
- Promoting a simple idea of a socially responsible company
- Publication of good practices in the field of CSR activities
- Putting emphasis on the impacts of CSR activities
- Giving awards at local, national and international level
Examples of socially responsible small businesses
It is clear that CSR is an increasingly important issue for small and medium-sized companies. Here are some examples of activities done by those companies in the area of CSR.
IQuTech has been providing services to Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo, Apple, EMC and their Tier 1 suppliers since 2005. It is based in Ireland and works also in the Czech Republic. Within CSR, the company focuses on reducing the negative impacts of its activities on the nature. It concentrates on the following areas:
- Re-use, renovation, recirculation of materials
- Production of almost zero waste from processes
- Waste disposal in accordance with WEEE(Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive)
Ceridian HCM, Inc. is a provider of human resource software and services in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Mauritius. Because they work with HR, they are aware of the disadvantageous position of handicapped people. Therefore, within their CSR, they have decided to acquire the finances needed to integrate people with disabilities into the normal life of the community. This activity is operated through the PayBack Foundation. In addition, employees have the opportunity to suggest ways how to make fundraising more efficient and they can suggest other CSR activities that could be successful.
Examples of Cerdian activities include mini marathon, sales of bakery products on St. Patrika, volunteer day near school and downtown St. Gabriel's, Great Limerick Run and Adare to survive (7.5 km obstacle military run).
Even hotels can be engaged with CSR. For example, the Sandymount Hotel in Dublin tries to reduce its energy and water consumption and they have a waste prevention program. Employees who created the so-called Green Theme play an important role. They conduct "green" activities and encourage other colleagues to follow the principles of a socially responsible business.
Hotels usually have high energy requirements. Sandymount put in place several measures to reduce the energy load as much as possible. For example, all rooms have eco shower heads that reduce water consumption by 59%, low-voltage lighting and keycards controlled by guests (guest leaves his room and everything turns off or goes into power save mode). They also lead employees to consistent recycling. Last but not least, all older furniture and equipment is being sold to charity at a discounted price.
Three Q PERMS & TEMPS
The Irish Three Q PERMS & TEMPS is an agency that mediates employment and company employees. They realize that for some people it is very hard to find a job, so they use their ability to help people who do not have a job and do not know how to find it. The company works with three different groups:
- Unemployed: Three Q PERMS & TEMPS works with Jobcare, a work club program in the center of Dublin, that prepares and supports active applicants in looking for a job.
- Applicants: The company helps and promotes the creation of quality CVs with applicants, whom they work with. At the same time, through the role-play technique, candidates can try out how a real interview takes place. For candidates they offer support, including training for further career development in their chosen career.
- Business: The company also offers discounts or free ads for their clients who carry out charitable activities. It promotes the charitable activities through websites and social media.
This PR company, settled in Dublin, carries out excellent PR solutions. It provides many high-level quality services and while doing so it does not forget the community from which it originated. This is precisely why it focuses on supporting the local community not only financially, but also through volunteering work.
They help community groups, schools, and non-profit organizations. The company also enables its employees to develop their skills and tries to make them feel well in the work environment. Employees can work on projects that challenge them.
It is obvious that abroad small and medium-sized companies are continuously trying to implement CSR into their organizational culture. Now it is necessary that it also happens in the Czech Republic. If you are interested in more information, do not hesitate to contact us.