Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important aspect of business that, unfortunately, many small and medium enterprises shy away from. Generally associated with larger, longstanding companies, CSR refers to company practices involving initiatives that benefit society. A business’ CSR strategy can encompass a wide variety of tactics, and many companies utilise it as a way of promoting the work they do in a positive light.

CSR could be considered as vital – becoming more than just a standard practice where big businesses shouldn’t be the only ones subscribing to it. With 70% employment in Ireland coming from SMEs, even the small business owner can prove their worth through work they do for their communities. The practice of CSR in SME is generally less formal and more intuitive than in larger enterprises. However, the value of it is unprecedented.

The investment

Before you eschew the concept of expending resources on something that doesn’t directly benefit your profit margin – think of it as an investment. Asking your staff to work away from the business’ own clients or consumers could cause issues for SME owners but allowing time to engage with the community will result in a larger business pool to rub shoulders with. Charities often mingle with other high-powered business people conducting their own CSR activities, could it open a door for future business for you?

The promotion

CSR in an SME allows for the public to see the work that the business is doing. Whether it is based on the local community, environment or on a wider scale initiative – people will be more susceptible to what your company does over others that haven’t developed in this area. SMEs that participate in CSR programmes or policies can easily win new business and greatly increase customer retention. A survey conducted by Ricoh in 2015 found that almost 70% of Irish consumers said “they are more likely to buy from a responsible firm, rather than a cheaper alternative that was not.”

The cost cutting

A great way for SMEs to cut costs is through CSR practice. For example – reducing packaging initiatives, reducing energy or being energy conscious in the workplace will also save money whilst promoting a good cause. Being a small business it’s far easier than a multinational to get all employees on board with an idea – thus making the chances of success far more likely whilst improving the corporate culture in your SME!

Still not convinced? Why not take a test to see how your company can affect the community, environment, and your customers with a CSR tool for SMEs. This tool – which was launched last December by Minister for Employment, Pat Breen – will help SMEs enter into the world of CSR and look at how it can shape their company into something even greater for Ireland.