CSR needs to be exercised internally and externally
But in the light of yet another scandal it is clear CSR isn’t a perfect indicator of what is actually happening behind the scenes in the corporate world. VW had been lauded even recently as a global leader in corporate social responsibility, and yet internal standards had slipped to the point where the emissions rigging scandal took place on a grand scale. If big business can’t get it right, perhaps it is time for SMEs to step up to the mark and lead the movement towards a more transparent, honest and authentic approach to business.
Corporations are complex beasts and as Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA (Royal Society for Arts) states: “Pursuing an ethical approach to business is, it turns out, a lot more complicated than it is often portrayed.” That’s clearly true for multi-national giants but not so for small business. A minority may exhibit a rather unsavoury Del Boy mentality, but values and ethics are genuinely important to the majority of small business owners. Increasingly, these companies are also supporting their local communities developing an engaged and motivated workforce and reducing their environmental impacts.
Invariably talk about CSR and sustainability revolves around corporates. But let’s not forget that SMEs are the engine room of the British economy they account for roughly half private sector workforce, GDP and emissions.
But what SMEs are not doing, explains Jill Poet, managing director of the Organisation for Responsible Businesses, is promoting their responsible business credentials. Her message to the small companies she works with is very clear: “People like to buy from ethical and responsible companies but if you don’t tell them how wonderful you are they don’t know!” ENDS