Corporate responsibility and sustainability for SMEs

In the past, businesses with a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S) strategy used to be considered philanthropic but with the introduction of legislation like the Energy Policy Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act combined with increased pressure from the media and the public, all businesses now need to consider their environmental and social responsibilities. Big businesses are now much more focused on their CR&S and this in turn is starting to have a major impact on SMEs further down the line.

Those who are part of big business supply chains will most likely already have been affected by the rise of CR&S. Big businesses are now more likely to choose vendors who can work in accordance with their CR&S strategy, meaning that SMEs who are not able to demonstrate that they are responsible, could be dropped by existing customers. This means that SMEs who rely on big businesses need to take corporate responsibility and sustainability as seriously as the big players do in order to stay ahead of their competitors.

An effective CR&S strategy can also help to improve your company’s reputation and secure new contracts. As sustainability become increasingly important, more and more SMEs will start to develop their own strategies so, to stand out, you will need to do more than just pay lip service. You will need to develop a strategy that really sets you apart and shows how committed you are to addressing social and environmental issues.

But corporate responsibility isn’t just about ticking corporate responsibility boxes and making your company look good. There are tangible savings to be made through CR&S strategies. Firstly, energy saving should be a major factor in any sustainability plan. Reducing the amount of energy your company uses can have huge cost savings and can be achieved very simply through simple measures like heat/air conditioning control, lights that automatically shut off when not in use and ensuring equipment is energy efficient. Blast and paint equipment supplier, Airblast AFC , recently trialed an energy saving campaign in their marketing office by simply encouraging employees to turn off their computers whenever they left the room for an extended period and saw a significant saving as a result.

A CR&S strategy can also help to reduce employee turnover. A study by Business in the Community found that employees who consider their company to be fulfilling their social and environmental responsibilities have a higher level of commitment at work. This means that businesses which employ a CR&S strategy are more likely to retain employees, thereby reducing recruitment and training costs.

These are just some of the factors which will come into play as the trend towards increased social and environmental responsibility continues. In a world where the public, the media and big businesses are becoming increasingly conscientious, it is vital for SMEs to ensure that they have a CR&S strategy in place and those who don’t will quickly find themselves left behind.

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