Most companies practice Corporate Social Responsibility of some sort, but are we doing enough to reach the goals we set out to achieve?

Defined by Cole and Kelly, CSR “is a concept whereby organisations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in every aspect of their operations and decision-making; it is about good business citizenship.” And although there is not one clear definition, all agree that corporate irresponsibility poses serious risks for organisations and their stakeholders.

There is no legislation enforcing CSR, however in today’s climate it is vital to the success of a business. We’re regularly seeing companies hitting the headlines for breaking environmental legislation or ‘greenwashing’ to get ahead in the market, demonstrating the huge risk if not taken seriously. Thus, companies are spending significant time & resources trying to manage this risk. Championed by corporates, and often the key focus of marketing campaigns (as opposed to the products themselves), CSR may seem like it’s what larger organisations are doing, but is crucial to be taken seriously even by the smallest of businesses.

Values

Our company mission is to “share our passion for green infrastructure and urban landscape design for people, communities and the environment” which underpins our company values, all of which are based on CSR, creating value for our employees, customers, the environment and through our designs.

It is important that company values are applied throughout a business to ensure they are embedded into all operations and the company culture itself. Time time should be taken to ensure these values have a shared sense of meaning for employees and other stakeholders. Many companies are rewarding their employees for actively ‘living’ and working in-line with the corporate values.

Greenwashing

The Canadian Business for Social Responsibility have a fantastic explanation for greenwashing; “CSR- HR = PR. If employees are not engaged, CSR becomes an exercise in public relations, the credibility of an organisation will become damaged when it becomes evident that a company is not “walking the talk”.” In simpler terms, greenwashing is when a company says that it is socially and environmentally responsible but is not. They are not only unethical in their operations, but also lying to their customers.

For us, CSR is at the core of what we do; not only are we working with clients to help them achieve their CSR goals, but also ensuring we run our business in a sustainable and ethical way. The role of CSR should be considered both for internal operations such as Human Resources and employees, and externally such as its effect on the company brand, image and competitive positioning.