CSR and the art of securing loyalty

The fact is that, Corporate Social Responsibility doesn’t always top the list of a start-up’s agenda. Steve Edgell, MD, Cycle Solutions, looks at the business case for caring, and how to achieve it at no or low cost.

Millennials cite CSR as being a driver of loyalty. Brands realise that CSR practices can set brands apart from the competition, attract new customers, engage staff and boost recruitment drives.

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey – based on the views of 10,455 millennials across 36 countries – suggests today’s young workers have lost faith in businesses. Less than half (48%) now believes corporations behave ethically, and only a minority (47%) believes business leaders are committed to helping improve society.

The survey concludes that millennials “are imploring business leaders to take the lead in solving the world’s problems, to shift organizations’ motives from inordinately focusing on making profit to balancing social concerns, and to be more diverse, flexible, nurturing of and generous with its employees.”

I know what you’re thinking: how can my small business make any real difference to society? But this is about our collective power. Every small change contributes to the greater good. And your employees, increasingly, care about your contribution.

Here are three ways to make your business more environmentally and socially responsible, with no associated costs.

1. Promote active transport
Do your bit to reduce air pollution and help employees to lead healthier lives by encouraging carbon-neutral commutes.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Providing showers and lockers for those who walk, jog, run, scoot or skate to work can really boost numbers, while offering the cycle to work scheme will save participants between 32% and 48% on bicycles and cycling accessories.

Active travel needs to be part of the company culture to make a real impact. Why not get teams to log their journeys via tracking apps and celebrate 1,000-green miles travelled?

2. Offer volunteering days
Offering your employees paid time off each year to support charitable causes and local community projects benefits everyone. Your business holds a wealth of talent and experience that would never otherwise be accessible to underfunded worthy causes.

Your employees return to work full of the joys of having made a difference through sharing their skills with those less fortunate and are likely to share their experience with peers and friends, which builds positive brand awareness.

And, as the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal Development) points out, volunteering is a viable alternative to other forms of employee development. It adds: “A development opportunity in the community can be more beneficial than classroom learning and is usually cheaper.”

3. Ban single-use plastic
Don’t crack out the plastic champagne flutes every time an employee has a birthday or work anniversary, kit your office out with real glasses, crockery and cutlery, which you can bet will be used time and again.

Go bigger with an office-wide ban on bottled water (just one recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a light bulb for three hours), plastic bags, straws, and takeaway coffee cups. Instead, offer your team reusable versions, branded with your company logo. They’ll save money in their local coffee shop for bringing their own cup, and you’ll get free advertising.

Steve Edgell
Managing director
Cycle Solutions

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024