The Environmental and Social Responsibility of Your Business Business Advice | Business News | Industry News | SMEs 25th January 2016 | By Paul Hunter Running a business involves a lot more than stock, figures and sales. There’s a whole world of considerations beyond the bricks and mortar of your company’s day to day. Something that all SMEs need to think about is their environmental and social responsibilities. What is a corporate social responsibility policy? These can be in many different guises, but they mainly incorporate the company’s active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and norms. In some cases, this goes further and works to create social good through various philanthropic means. Benefits of a Corporate and Social Responsibility Policy Besides the obvious fact that you’ll be ‘doing good’, how does enforcing this type of policy aid your business? Here’s a quick list of benefits: Stand out from the crowd – highlight how brilliant your business is by doing charity work and funding good causes. Reduce waste emissions – less waste and emissions mean savings in your overheads, allowing you to redistribute funds. Build a better reputation – when you’re ‘doing good’ you’re going to get some positive press coverage which will affect the way people think about your business. Employee retention – making your company a nicer place to work and having a good company ethos may mean that employees stay for longer. Comply with regulatory requirements – having a social responsibility policy can help you take the steps needed to comply with laws and regulations. Work with local community – giving you good relationships with local authorities and other local SMEs. Develop better ways of working – trying to achieve a target while maintaining your social responsibility policy can force you to find new and better ways of working. Become more competitive – new ways of working, a better reputation and money saved on waste can help to give you the edge, and even encourage the backing of new investors. All of these are points that every business should be striving to achieve and are easily obtainable through a social responsibility policy. Some companies take more of an environmental than a social approach to this policy, where they look for more ways to reduce waste, cut emissions and help the environment. What Should be Included in the Policy? Your corporate social responsibility policy should reflect the aims of your business – you need to align these with your specific practices. If you’re not sure what these are then look at the things that you currently do and how you could implement different practices to improve your business. That said, you need to be realistic and include things that are achievable – while it is important that your business strives to achieve, if it isn’t financially viable then you won’t be able to sustain it. Things to include in your policy are: Environmental aims Social and community activities Ethical issues Sustainable development Business relationships When it comes to planning these points make sure you take the aforementioned considerations into account. Depending on the direction your company is taking, you should weight your policy to favour these points. Other Considerations Developing a corporate and social responsibility policy is a serious task and requires some careful consideration. Ideally you want to develop this using your business’s key decision makers, looking at what is important to your business and what’s realistic for you to achieve. If you’re looking to grow and expand then make sure you have a policy in place to help provide your business with some direction and give credit to your ways of working. This can be a key factor that works in your favour to help you secure finance, build relationships and develop your company over the upcoming years.