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CSR – Nice To Have Or Business Critical?

I have had the honour of being on the judging panel for this year’s APSCo Awards for Excellence and one of my categories was CSR Initiative of the Year.  It was a really tough category because, while to the outside world recruiters may often have the reputation of being sharper than a Stanley knife, I was genuinely overcome at the generosity of spirit displayed by all of the contenders – and there were a lot!

The Business Case

Of course there are some compelling business reasons to get CSR right.  Adding social value is an element that many organisations are now looking for from their PSL suppliers and it is fairly easy to spot the ones that just want to be able to tick the box by planting a few trees – and those that have genuinely thought about what it means to be a socially responsible company.  But there are other benefits too:

  • Media Coverage – Great CSR initiatives gives you something to talk to the press about and so it can act as a brand differentiator
  • Employee Engagement – Employees like working for ethical organisations – and seeing that media coverage will give your millennials a real buzz
  • Improves client relationships -  If your CSR relates back to what you do as a company this can be a real talking point with your clients

Making it relevant

The submissions that were shortlisted for the awards – and who had the pleasure of facing me and four others last week at RBS Towers on Bishopsgate – all had initiatives that related to their businesses. Some of the stories I heard on the day ranged from helping out at a soup kitchen and providing laptops to the homeless so that they can prepare a professional CV and get on the job ladder to setting up supportive placements for the underprivileged so that they get a real shot at employment and establishing bursaries for students who would otherwise struggle to attend university – to name but a few!

The right thing to do

I think the thing that struck me most was that all of the recruitment firms who entered were not ‘doing CSR’ merely to tick a PSL box – they were doing it because they felt it was right to give back to the communities they belonged to and to instill a sense of ethical business into their organisations. That’s pretty impressive.

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