Some days ago I’ve been invited by the serbian business magazin “Leader” to write about one of the most common prejudices: CSR is just for big companies! Read here:
„The current economic crisis is all about confidence and reliability.” How often did we hear this statement over the last months? How often high level bankers preached that their business was perfect until the “market” lost it’s confidence? How often experts tried to explain the current situation in an ineffective way? But how often did you hear “We are taking on the responsibility …”? Never.
Economy is not business between computers. All kinds of business still remain being human interaction – regardless the size of an enterprise. Considering this fact it shall be obvious that beside economic values to include social and environmental impacts has to be part of modern globally as well as locally thinking. And that’s exactly what’s behind the ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Unfortunately CSR suffers two main prejudices: It’s mainly about “green” ideas and it is just applicable to big companies.
Acting in an responsible way includes consideration of the environmental impacts a company’s decision generates. Even the first step of identifying these impacts will help to improve awareness and performance. Knowing the problems and the risks will open new ways for the future as well as these considerations will show that ecologic responsibility is intrinsically tied to a sustainable business success. Being “green” is not a fashion trend it is an economic necessity a company will be held responsible for.
Concerning the prejudice of “CSR is just for the big ones”: Finally no human activity can escape the three basic pillars of CSR (economy, environment and society) – there always will be impacts on all of them. And – that’s the issue – the smaller a company is, the more locally it acts the more immediate it will be held responsible for it’s actions. So there is no way to say that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) should not care about CSR. It is just the other way around! And for most of these companies CSR is not an obligation or a threat it is a great opportunity!
So which are these opportunities?
After the first CSR survey the company will get as an immediate result an overview of all it’s activities and the related impacts which mostly already discovers risks and opportunities. These results can lead to e.g. more efficient energy consumption, better quality, higher motivated and loyal employees or simply will show new business opportunities. Getting deeper in the CSR process an active stakeholder engagement will significantly help to improve the company’s image and perception.
After knowing all the basic data and identifying areas to improve a strategy will be developed as well as an implementation plan. So especially for smaller enterprises this is the opportunity to settle up their first management system. Having a management system means nothing more or less than having a system of continuous improvement based on the simple PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act). So finally working with CSR will help also SMEs improving their economic performance in the only sustainable way known.
The CSR Company started at March 17th 09 a project in collaboration with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, CEI and the Austria Development Agency to “CSR to the people!”
An obstacle for SMEs which often occurs is the leak of knowledge and a missing network. Doing things together would be much easier and learning from each other would allow faster improvement. In the case of Serbia the National Chamber of Commerce will offer this platform in the near future for all companies.
A platform for education, best practice, know-how exchange and finally awarding. We are right now on the way to set up a national CSR competence centre which is aiming especially to the majority of Serbian companies – small and medium enterprises. So keep in touch with your local office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce to benefit from these opportunities. … and there is no company to small for the challenges and benefits of CSR!
News on this topic will be available soon!