Partner content: CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, has evolved hugely over the past decade, but it can be difficult to know what it really means or how to include it in your own workplace. Here, one of our partners looks at 5 great UK businesses who are getting it right.
The Department of Business and Innovation have said it themselves—CSR is good for business, and it’s good for society.
Corporate Social Responsibility has evolved enormously over the last few years. To some, it might still seem like an approach with only two components - environmental initiatives or philanthropic work.
However, recent Business Ethics research and the UK’s own Department of Business and Innovation suggest that it encompasses far more than just these two things, and can be made up of a huge mix of initiatives that contribute towards economic, community and environmental development,leading to a positive impact on society as well as business.
We live in a world where a big disparity still exists between the haves and the have-nots, with constant news about climate change and global warming, and criticism that not enough emphasis is placed on transparent financial management for business.
It is therefore inspiring to see that more and more companies are investing in CSR, and opting towards putting more sustainable business operations in place.
Here we look at five UK companies that are doing a great job of incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility into their business strategy.
The premium chocolate company Thornton’s has made it their business to provide people across the UK with delicious dark, milk and white chocolates. Through these sweet creations, their mission has been to bring smiles to their customers’ faces. They have also adopted an extensive range of CSR initiatives and pride themselves on giving back to society.
Charity, Community & Social Development
Thornton’s actively supports a range of local charities by giving back to communities. Community led projects are encouraged by staff through volunteering and fundraising projects. Their key charity partner is Smile Train; the world's leading cleft lip charity is an active charity partner and is at the centre of the company's primary fundraising pursuits.
Environmentally Friendly Policy
Recycling – Through a partnership approach, Thornton’s works on a dedicated integrated waste management business with recycling champions on site, steering the ideal of zero waste to landfill in the right direction.
Energy - Saving energy is a main priority. The company continually exceeds the Climate Change Agreement targets set by the Food and Drink Federation, and their consumption of gas and electricity has declined by more than 10% from last year to 3,688 kWh/tonne of products produced.
Water - Committed to reducing the consumption of water onsite, the company signed the Federation House Commitment in 2011 which works towards reducing the overall water consumption across the food and drink sector by 20% by 2020.
Air Charter Service
The luxury aviation and aircraft charter company Air Charter Service (ACS) provides private, group, cargo and helicopter charter travel solutions worldwide. Understanding the need for real time, emergency and sometimes luxury bespoke flight service, they provide safe and speedy flight solutions. ACS’s CSR policy lies close to its heart, and is an area which they’re always trying to improve upon.
An ongoing, long-term project that benefits from ACS’s fundraising is HEAL. Over the past four years ACS’s donations have provided for a new IT classroom and library for the HEAL orphanage and school in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Air Charter Service raised 50 000 pounds in 2014 and has distributed the funds between three charities.
Annually, ACS’s staff vote for an extra three charities to raise money for - one local, one UK-based and one international.
Environmentally friendly operations
With the aim of a carbon neutral status with their selection of chartered services for clients, ACS is a prime example of a business that is current and understands the importance of giving back to the community whilst also applying and actively pursuing more ethical and responsible business operations.
Ernst & Young (UK)
One of the financial services market leaders forming part of the four major audit firms worldwide, Ernst & Young’s services include everything from assurance, transactional, tax and advisory consulting services. Ernst & Young’s CSR strategy clearly shows their passion for community development and doing what they can to put the youth of today on a better footing, empowering them to aspire towards building their careers.
Social & Community Development
The various initiatives that Ernst & Young drives forward makes it clear that as a corporate they have a particular passion for inspiring and empowering youth to live their dreams. As part of their CSR strategy, they’ve adopted the following programs which are all dedicated to uplifting communities and encouraging youth to upskill, with practical mentoring, training and development programs.
Education Partnership Programme (EEP) - This programme takes a ‘whole school’ approach by working with students and teachers to provide specific support and advance improvements.
EY Career’s Experience - To improve pupils’ networking skills and grasp of career opportunities so that they understand that a professional services career is not unattainable.
School Governors Network - The Network aims to help staff increase their impact by providing skills development sessions, external speakers, and a forum for sharing experiences and ideas.
Progression mentoring - Students finish a Prince’s Trust programme to guarantee a smooth transition to the next stage of their development. The aim is to support young people in their quest for employment, training, education or volunteering, and make the most of their prospects whilst in employment.
Global communications service provider, BT, serves customers in the UK and operates in more than 170 countries worldwide. Their service offering includes fixed line services, mobile technology, TV and broadband products and services. Corporate social responsibility forms a big part of their corporate governance, and they have been positioned as a sustainable responsible business leader.
Charity Work & Community
SOS Children’s Villages – online opportunities offer young people in isolated African communities the chance to improve the quality of their lives.
Message Stick – an inspiration for Aboriginal business people. Aboriginal technology firm, Message Stick, conquers corporate Australia together with BT One Collaborate services.
Improving Lives - Last year their skills and technological resources were used to raise over 85 million pounds for good causes. For example, their unique Emergency Response Team responded to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to help re-establish communications.
BT is committed to reducing the carbon intensity of their global business by 80 per cent by 2020. Currently they have achieved a 43 per cent reduction by being energy efficient and increasing their use of renewable energy.
One of the largest bakery chains in the UK, Greggs specialises in savoury and sweet baked goods. As the company has grown steadily over the years it now has more than 1600 outlets. With the product line ever changing, you’re bound to find something to ease any sweet or savoury craving with Greggs treats. On a more serious note, Greggs has a well rounded CSR policy in place, something that could inspire other businesses as to how CSR could be set up.
Greggs Foundation - Charity work forms a big part of Greggs’ CSR strategy; employees and customers collectively raise funds together supporting a large variety of local community projects, including the Greggs Breakfast Club Scheme.
Greggs Breakfast Club – Forming part of their long term community strategy, Greggs has been contributing in a small way to schools in the UK’s breakfast clubs.
Other charities - Further charities which they lend a large amount of support to at either a local or a national level include the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the BBC’s Children in Need appeal.
Community Development (Training & Development)
Ready to Work - Developed in partnership with the prisons and probation trusts, the programme provides ex-offenders with assessment and interview experience.
A Taste of Greggs - Developed in partnership with Job Centre Plus, this programme offers work experience placements and employment, where needed, to young people.
Work Programme - produced for Greggs by various work providers, this programme helps them support the long term unemployed through work experience and paid employment, where possible.
Environmentally friendly programmes
Waste management - They have worked hard over the last 5 years to largely reduce the proportion of our waste that goes to landfill. Waste is segregated into ‘dry mixed recycling’ (DMR), ‘food waste’ and ‘landfill’.
Photovoltaic roof systems - As part of their aim to reduce carbon they have installed photovoltaic arrays on the roofs of ten of their bakeries. 1.3m kWh of electricity will be generated a year for use in the bakeries, saving almost 600 tonnes of carbon.
Within Greggs retail operations, 2013 was a year of education, investigation and trials in energy reducing technologies that will help shape future shop refit specifications. This includes the opening of an energy efficient concept shop which trials, amongst other things, doors on the shop front, doors on self-service fridges and a more efficient heating and cooling system for the shop that uses waste heat from equipment.
There are different ways in which large organisations can go about improving their CSR scores, and loads of benefits to pursuing and incorporating corporate social responsibility into business strategy and operations. It need not always entail the signing of a large sum of money to one charity.
CSR is not just for big corporates; it is something that businesses and of every size the world over can incorporate into their business strategy. If every business adopted CSR strategies and started off with fulfilling one goal at a time, imagine the change we could see!
There’s an old African proverb that states ‘if you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together’. Businesses can unite and walk far together, driving the possibilities for change and hope where it is needed the world over.
Do you have CSR schemes in your workplace? Let us know what your company does or would like to do in the comments!