Demonstrating a commitment to CSR is now an integral part of business life but some employees are too busy to bring on board.
Social value is often generated by businesses and organisations funding charitable projects, launching a foundation, organising volunteering projects and introducing sustainability initiatives.
Businesses should prioritise social value by:
1. Letting employees choose charities. While having a ‘charity of the year’ is the norm in corporate circles, asking staff to nominate a chosen charity can help make this process more democratic.
2. Developing employee initiatives. Organise lunchtime cycling, weekend volunteering and recycling projects for all to get involved. Open the floor to suggestions, allowing employees to make recommendations that are important to them.
3. Building social value into client contracts. Insist that partner organisations prioritise social value too. This is the norm in public sector contracts and is becoming more familiar across a wider range of sectors.
4. Leading from the top. The most successful CSR-focused businesses have CEOs and MDs who are active and committed to a social value mission statement.
5. Adopting a framework. The time is now to be serious about CSR. Paying lip-service won’t give businesses the desired results. Set real objectives with fixed timeframes, and work towards those.
6. Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Benchmark achievements against 17 global goals set by the UN in 2015 to achieve a more sustainable future and address global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.
7. Gamifying the creation of social value. Inspire employees to do more and get competitive about it. For example, set up a leader board and offer prizes as incentives.
8. Starting with the basics. Transforming a business’s attitude to social value won’t be an overnight process. It’s OK to start small and scale up. Get rid of plastics, put recycling bins in place, ditch cars, use public transport or walk into work.
9. Listening to stakeholders. Align with the organisation’s mission, vision or values. To truly embed social value into a business, it needs to harmonise.
10. Working with pro-social companies. Be open to partnering with social enterprises, charities, or other ‘good’ companies at all stages of negotiating contracts.
☛ Chris Farrell is MD at Impact Reporting