CSR for small business

I have realised – over the past decade – how fast the concerns over the impact of business on our society and planet has emerge as a topic for every type of business. Big or small, leaders are now required to « care » more than ever.
From Child labor to #equalpay, from recycling to education for all, companies can have an amazing role in contributing while improving their balance sheet. This is a quick guide on how to kick start your initiative.

Combining this with the emerging capacity to check on companies promises vs their engagements and values; it is becoming more and more difficult to present a strait face and propose nothing.

  • It does not look good to future clients,
  • it does not look good for future employees,
  • it does not look good as a business leader in its field.

What is CSR ?

Corporate Social Responsibility = is a self regulation that aims to contribute to a better relation between a private business and its environment (physical or social) : it gives room for business to take an active part into societal, environmental and philanthropic projects as landmark of their engagement.

Keep in mind that CSR is not a cost line, it is an approach that can change some company set ups. It would actually lead to savings, lower employees’ turn over and greater business prospects (studies shows)

Why is CSR good?

Because any longe term planner knows that to keep a business floating, it needs a healthy working environment. And green washing is not a fix. Large businesses are looking into their partners to offer some of their own CSR relief (see guide below) so small businesses have to come equipped with solutions on their field of activity. it won’t be a competitive advantage, but it could soon be a form of obligation. 

Once out of the pack thanks to CSR, your business can leverage it with its clients and new businesses

But where to start ?

Let’s build up a simple step-by-step guide on the low hanging fruits towards building a no-nonsense CSR plan that can also gives you an edge in terms of business:

  1. Review your internal processes
    • Do you consume intrant material? water? chemicals? power? Can this consumption be reduced?
    • Do you generate waste? what is done with it?
    • Where is your office, how employees come to work? where do they eat?
  2. Review your external partnerships
    • What are your providers certification and environmental labels ?
    • Do they have their own CSR plan?
    • Have you set up requirements for them?
  3. Engage your employees
    • Are your employees feeling concerned by CSR?
    • Is your appraisal process including CSR questions ?
    • Does any of your employees already leading an initiative or willing to participate into developing one?
  4. Choose your engagements
    • Which of your company values resonate with environmental issue?
    • Does your industry struggle with a particular societal problem?
    • Does your office / business is located in an area which could benefit from local support?

Building this analysis can lead to clear first steps to improve the company impact, your providers relationships and the employees engagement. Maybe nothing clear emerges straightaway? Then we can suggest to help with a workshop session aiming to define long term company goals around positive issues based on the analysis. We believe that one day of focus can unleash a great set of empowering propositions to place your business in the right universe of work for good.

Do not hesitate to be in touch.

Finding the right team members

“We need to hire someone more senior for this role” is a phrase I have heard my whole agency life. But what means “being senior” in a business,

“We need to hire someone more senior for this role” is a phrase I have heard my whole agency life. Often, the choice is right and the person fulfil her role with professionalism. Still, we sometimes end up with a deceptive and ill-adapted solution where the person is not equipped to fill it mission, however senior s.he is.

This can have a devastating on the level of service on the short term and quality of the business relationship on the long run, I have experienced it first hand lately and it took me to reflect on the roots of the problem we faced.

Why recruitment does not always work and how to address it?

Analysing the internal issues we faced, I realised that this seniority definition is divided into the following pillars:

  • Expertise/ Skillset: based on the pure technical know how and specificities of an industry or a solution. Someone who is certified or accredited in a particular area of work. The more senior one’s get the deeper one’s knowledge is.
  • Experience: based on the length of someone’s acquaintance with a sector, a role or a situational environment which makes one’s knowledge about the potential outcome and necessities of the future role.
  • Values: based on the capacity to take ownership of a role and resolve to address any issues coming with it, including potentially managing team members.

I gather that each role does not require to reach the same level in each of these pillars. But the company needs have to be clear what the job requires.

How do you get the assessment right ? I read a lot of HR and Coaching blog to address this and the actual best advice I found is the following: Use your team members to confirm and clarify the role needs and values as the doers are the best persons to understand the role needed and the mistakes not to be made (again).

That includes :

  • Build a precise role description
  • Advertise it properly: internally and externally
  • Assess the applicant on those necessary pillars:
    • Expertise : check it skills with a test – does he have to master excel ? web based and/or collaborative tools ?
    • Experience: check with its old employer and work history
    • Persona : how does he cope with stress ? with other team members ? with stakeholders at all levels of the hierarchy ?
  • Do not underestimate practicalities : other job offers ? does he have to move in town ? where is his.her family?

As a manager, it is essential to clarify if your HR process is covering these 4 elements or needs to be cover by you. at the end of the day, the manager can sometimes « inherit » a team member he has not selected and end up not being able to keep its standard of service and productivity because of an ill prepared recruitment process.

When recruiting for your company is difficult, it can also emerge from the external outlook of your company as a good place to work.

Large businesses address this as part of their corporate communications strategy to support recruitment effort of qualified personnel.

If you are facing recruitment issues, and need support in building a recruitment strategy, do not hesitate to share your questions with us. we are always happy to help.

Writing for corporate

I created a piece of corporate comms eight years ago – for a former employer – to promote well the doers in our field in a qualitative format: a well designed magazine sent to our database (5000 people) was chosen. This was a success so it was maintained as an annual rendez-vous of the sector. Eight years later this format is too crowded and cluttered.

They lately asked me how to improve it, It made me realised how easy a successful editorial rendez-vous can loose its impact with time.

Corporate editorial here is about what the company wishes to convey not advertising to the masses. There are three basic tricks in this areas that can quickly make the difference to set something up and successfully sell it to the board:

  • Assess purpose within context

Keep track of the objectives behind any piece of communication that goes to the public – when the universe involves the tools to communicate should evolve with it in the flow when you do not wish to disrupt or disruptively when you wish to.

  • Define relevant audience and how to attract them

One should ask oneself : Who should read it? What should expect to get out of it? vs. who reads me and what do they want to read or see?

  • Structure content in the relevant format to ease memorisation

How do you read best a data heavy piece of content? or a visual representation? Are the key messages analytical or deductive? What is the way your desired audience is used to receive this type of information? do not hesitate to split on different formats.

Assessing the impact of a format has become easy with the development of feedback app and web-based survey software to obtain unbiased and useful feedback that would serve your purpose. It is paramount to act on, not only consult. If one spend time in advising you, you must at least let one know what you plan on doing with it.

The magazine format is very efficient, but the content have to be purposed to have its traction with people who wish long and deep reading. It is a matter of working out whether it make sense for what the company wants to convey, and be established it back where it belongs.

If you feel your corporate communications tools needs a revamp, do not hesitate to get in touch, we can help.