Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR or CSR), is not limited to writing an annual report that ends up on a shelf covered in dust. We must take many more steps and act consistently in the production of the services and products provided, and in all their life processes (supply chain, communication, distribution, sale and disappearance). CSR in companies should be treated transversally, from the General Directorate to the suppliers. In general terms, organizations have to look for sustainable ways to develop in harmony with their direct and indirect environment.
The business fabric is made up of more than 90% of micro, small or medium companies that try, especially in recent months, to survive in a particularly competitive market. Companies, like individuals, are the actors of the economic system, a system that sometimes suffer, and sometimes can enjoy, depending solely on them.
In these circumstances, CSR for SMEs is a reality that is increasingly present. It no longer only becomes a fashion phenomenon, but a necessity, where they have to change to a model of sustainable development. The commitment of companies does not have to be a facade of good feelings, it is not about converting companies into philanthropic entities, but about balancing this market in terms of the resources it produces and those it uses, CSR translates into a tool of management.
Why talk about commitment with SMEs?
According to Fundación Alternativa and KPMG Monitor Ibex 35 Sustainability 2009, the development of CSR in SMEs is held back by the lack of knowledge and training, and in some sectors there is the idea that the implementation of sustainable practices implies an increase in Expenses. In the latter case, we can clarify and explain that there are many good practices that are friendly to the environment and society, and that also allow savings.
Do not be fooled, many of the big companies have CSR policies only to consolidate their corporate reputation; betting that consumers will favor the purchase and / or hiring of services to apparently “responsible” companies … But, after all, that has nothing to do with the promotion of responsible consumption and company management sustainable. Today, with the rise of social networks and web 2.0, which led to a democratization of information, the reputation of any company is quite vulnerable and subject to storms difficult to predict and manage.
Faced with this situation, SMEs can gain a notable competitive advantage. Indeed, beyond the development of a “façade ethic”, SMEs favor a more localized market, which fosters a business model on a human scale and, by definition, more sustainable.
How to develop CSR policy in SMEs?
The government and its agencies are trying to promote responsible practices within the business fabric. In 2010 more than 900 companies participated in a joint ICO and CAN initiative for the free development of CSR reports for SMEs. It’s a first step, for something you have to start.
Obtaining CSR qualifications and standards (ISO, Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders list or SGE 21 Company Standard), work to promote job creation, training, social integration, socio-labor integration of people with disabilities and care for the environment, through saving natural resources are aspects that any company of any size can develop.
There are guidelines of common sense to be respected in order to put a SME behind a responsible management. Those are based on three aspects:
- CSR policies have to be consistent with the activity of the company.
- Measurement is a fundamental element to be able to evolve, correct the shot and draw lessons from both their mistakes and their successes.
- Being transparent in its activities and its communication is, in my opinion, the most important pillar of CSR policies that supports the idea that it is not a facelift, but to develop a truly responsible and transversal attitude in global management of business and apply a sustainable model integrated in a society with a human face.
Communicate your CSR actions coherence or opportunism?
The communication of the RSC is a very ambivalent aspect, to gloat to inform, the border is very fine. As communicators, it is important to have a global vision of the company so that it can always be based on the three pillars (coherence, measurement and transparency) and not appear as a varnish of “good actions” but as a solid building of responsibility and sustainability that we transmit to all stakeholders.
At the time of the democratization of information through web 2.0, digital marketing or even the downward prices of advertising in traditional media, SMEs can not stay on the platform. They have to get on the RSC train and communicate not an artificial image of their activities, but their role as responsible social, economic and environmental actors in a society of which and in which they live. Only in this way can we recover the meaning of: Communicating is living and not pretending …