20 Feb What is CSR?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. The CSR concept addresses topics such as human rights, corporate governance, health and safety, environmental effects, working conditions and contribution to economic development, whilst aiming to increase long-term profits for businesses and organisations of any size and nature by enabling them to become more efficient and attract positive attention.
CSR is not just about giving
It is in the interest of all businesses that engage in CSR to be involved beyond simply giving money. If a business has the ability to transform their CSR practice into a profit centre, they are more likely to stay strong during hard economic times, become more engaged and as they see their CSR have a positive impact upon their own business, give more. A CSR program that is built on the back of a shared experience—wherein there has been the opportunity to engage with a charity beyond a monetary transaction—is likely to return business benefits such as improved morale, increased staff retention, attracting new business, and differentiation from competitors. These benefits are seldom achieved through the donation of money and money alone.
“A company that is serious about CSR would seek to integrate social and environmental responsibility into various aspects of its business”, said Dr Lepre, Managing Consultant of Weave Consulting.
Dr Lepre claims that while there seem to be a handful of companies that regularly support good causes by providing financial or material support, the real practice of CSR in Malta is still in its infancy.
“There are only very few companies that really understand what CSR entails and look at it as a strategic way through which to enhance their operations and gain advantage over the competition. On the positive note, there seems to be a growing number of forward-thinking business leaders who understand the benefit of ‘doing good’ and who are willing to be proactive in this regard”.
Dr Lepre strongly believes that it is crucial for companies of any size to implement CSR if they are to thrive in the market.
“It is a myth that only very large companies can afford to engage in CSR, when the reality is that a company cannot afford not to engage in CSR if it wants to survive. There are also many activities already being carried out in companies of different sizes and in different industries, which can be construed as CSR initiatives, but due to lack of knowledge about the subject matter are not even acknowledged as such – in turn resulting in a missed opportunity for such companies. All business operators, be they large or small, have an impact on the wider community and therefore they can all be more proactive in terms of CSR, albeit in different ways. When it comes to CSR, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”