Following on from the recent post on 5 Reasons Against CSR from Smaller Businesses I thought it would make sense to explore the main examples of great initiatives that countless smaller businesses actively deliver without knowing it’s part of a bigger better business picture.
As a consultant I have the ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ mantra ringing in my ears day and night. If I’m completely honest I don’t completely accept that, especially for smaller businesses. Sometimes you know it’s working and can spend excessive resource measuring and administering. Yes, there will come a time when measurement is essential but with grassroots entrepreneurs over management can kill stone dead any energy or innovation.
Anyway, here’s the 5 most common ‘unknown’ CSR activities within SMEs:
Sponsoring a children’s sport club
Especially in my home city of Liverpool football is almost a religion to some and junior football is literally everywhere. Usually small businesses connected via family members or friends of the children are responsible for sponsoring team kits and equipment. I use the term ‘sponsor’ with some licence. In many cases it is a donation rather than getting anywhere near a return on investment expectation, but sponsorship is what it should be called.
Providing flexible hours for employees to manage care issues
Even if it’s allowing an employee to come in fifteen minutes late or leave early to collect a child from school that’s still flexible working. Whilst SMEs are unaware of the complete range of flexible working options available, most will informally offer one or two variations to look after their employees.
Recycling / Energy saving
Environmental issues are pushing the CSR agenda forward and there can’t be many small businesses remaining that are either forced through legislation or a desire to reduce costs. There are countless support mechanisms to assist SMEs in with ever improving services but nearly everybody know recycles paper or is trying to save fuel / energy.
Using local suppliers
Encouraging businesses to use local suppliers campaigns have been around for ever. In the UK the Federation of Small Business (FSB) are pro-actively promoting their ‘Keep Trade Local’ manifesto. You could almost replace ‘Keep it Local’ with a the grander sounding ‘sustainable procurement’ as the two are much closer than fee charging supply chain consultants would have you believe; reduced road miles, supporting local economies, improved supplier relationships.
Charity Fundraising Events
Do you know a business that hasn’t help raise money for a good cause? Cash donations, fundraising balls, themed work days, Santa Dash, sponsored sit in a bath of custard / head shave. Most SMEs approach good causes as an act of pure philanthropy offering cash or in-kind support without expectation of return and there’s nothing too wrong with that at all.
An extended list could also easily include employee training, supporting local schools, employing local people, etc. etc, but you should be getting the picture by now.
These five highlighted areas are wonderful examples of instinctive CSR / good business / philanthropy that demonstrates the local understanding and willingness by owner / managers to allow business resources to be diverted away from core business objectives because they feel it’s the right thing to do.
Smaller business are a furnace of raw, energetic, well meaning and often creative CSR activity that often goes overlooked. Imagine for a moment the possibilities with just a little more coordination, strategic thought, active communication and improved specialist support. We could see numerous small initiatives multiplied across the millions of SMEs internationally to provide a world changing combined overall impact – viva la small business CSR!