How CSR perspectives are changing
For too long, executives perceived corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a fugitive fad which only added to the pressures of operating as a large business. However, CSR has evolved in recent years and savvy businesses now recognise that innovative and solicitous campaigns can fundamentally strengthen a business’ position amongst its competitors and largely impact their bottom-line. Employees, customers, suppliers, and society more broadly, are demanding an increased focus on CSR and consideration for the impact businesses small and large have on the world around them. This can be through charitable partnerships, educational and sporting partnerships, sustainability movements and much more. CSR should be designed to enhance a company’s reputation, build strong ties to communities, and enhance engagement with customers and society at large. Excellent CSR strategies showcase effective, sustainable, and business-relevant initiatives that demonstrate to consumers how your business gives back to the industries or environments from which they derive revenue. We understand that large corporates who view CSR as central to their overall business strategies may find it much easier to create and publicise such initiatives when they are supported by such large budgets. With this, we recognise that for many smaller tech companies, who can’t simply plant 5 extra trees for every toilet roll they manufacture, it may be more challenging to think of and finance effective CSR strategies. If you can familiarise with this, we are here to provide you with some inspiration from the tech giants who are leading the way with CSR and sustainability, and also offer some recommendations into initiatives that may work for your business.
What are the tech giants doing?
Technology companies investing in the betterment of society and the environment can be an incredibly powerful shift in how we grow the sector. The tech industry is among those leading the way in terms of CSR and sustainability. Here is how tech giants Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple are handling CSR and investing in sustainability. Google has designed more efficient data centres which achieve higher energy efficiency and reduce consumption and costs. This has allowed Google to deliver over three times the computing power compared to its capability 5 years ago. Six of Google’s data centres have also achieved 100% landfill diversion, largely reducing their environmental footprint. Considering the energy consumption of data centres and considering investing in renewable energy projects are fantastic and market-relevant ways that the tech sector can contribute to society and the environment. Amazon has taken CSR incredibly seriously and invested in promoting a cleaner future for the plant, renewable energy, sustainable operations and packaging and reducing their global carbon footprint. Most notably Amazon invested in cultivating solar and wind energy farm in Texas which generates enough energy to power 90,000 homes every year. AWS is also committed to achieving 100% renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure footprint. In July last year, Microsoft launched their new program designed to accelerate the use of A for environmental protection, focusing their sustainability efforts on carbon, energy, water, ecosystems and circular economy. Similarly, Apple has focused their efforts on sustainability and reducing carbon footprint down its supply chain. Apple’s goal is to power their facilities including offices, data centres, retail stores and product distribution centres on 1005 clean energy.
How can you develop your CSR and sustainability strategy?
SME’s are often deeply involved in their local communities in terms of contributing substantially to providing employment and meeting their supply chain needs through local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. There are several other CSR initiatives that tech SME’s could consider:
- Partnerships: This is partnering with most often non-government, non-for-profit organisations (although there is nothing wrong with joining forces with for-profit businesses) to work together towards a shared goal. This could be joining forces with a business looking to invest in renewable energy or reduce supply chain or data centre energy consumption.
- Educational schemes: Examples of this include electing a member of your team once a quarter to visit one of the many schools or colleges who have recently introduced computer science and coding into their curriculum, and offering a source of support when it comes to career advice within the technology sector. Another educational initiative could be to partner up with another hardware supplier to donate computers to underprivileged UK schools or healthcare centres in need of better facilities.
- Mentoring in the local community: SMEs can elect a willing individual from their team to mentor as part of local business schemes such as ’Young Enterprise’ or becoming more involved in the local education of technology.
- Philanthropy: there are many companies where time, CSR budget and resources are limited, and it’s fully understandable that CSR strategy might not be the centre of these business’ priorities. However, there are simpler, less time and resource-heavy philanthropic initiatives for these companies to consider. For example, simply choosing a charity that your business could donate a small percent of revenue to per year or per product sold. Or perhaps you could see if your employees are up for getting involved in local fundraising or sporting events? You never know until you ask them!
If you are interested in learning more about CSR strategies for SME's, this blog written for Forbes offers some great insight and advice for smaller businesses!