Corporate Social Responsibility

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We are hearing more and more about large businesses and Corporate Social Responsibility. Many have heard about Corporate Social Responsibility, but do not know what CSR is or think it is only something large corporations could embrace. Small businesses like yours could practice CSR—but first, what is it?

CSR has generally come to mean corporations with a social conscience. Popular examples that you may have heard of are more related to the lack of social conscience or responsibility; for example, garment companies using sweat shops in Asia or fur companies selling fur that came from cats and dogs out of Eastern Europe or Asia.

In West Michigan, the general understanding of CSR has come to be represented by companies that:

1. Give back to the community (external CSR.)

2. Take care of their own employees, paying them a fair and equitable wage, providing benefits, and embracing diversity beyond what the letter of the law requires.

Some consider environmental sustainability a part of Corporate Social Responsibility; others consider it separately, and see the “Social” as community and people.

Regardless of how you define it, social responsibility means doing what you could within your means, while being profitable. Not every small business could provide health care benefits, but they might be able to provide other benefits within their means to their employees. Here are some examples, some of which you might be able to afford:

  • Paid vacation
  • Paid sick days
  • Vision benefit or some reimbursement
  • Dental benefit or X number of dollars towards dental 
  • Direct deposit
  • Pay or incentives for volunteering
  • Gift cards for great work or employment anniversaries
  • Christmas presents 
  • Bonus
  • Certificates of recognition

Small businesses could often give back to the community, but in smaller ways. Could you as a business:

  • Donate to a charity?
  • Volunteer individually or as a group representing your business?
  • Participate in organizations with similar principles?
  • Participate on a board of a charity?
  • Sponsor or jointly sponsor with other small businesses a lunch or an event?

How could you practice CSR with your customers and suppliers? Work for or hire those who pay their employees equitably, practice diversity, practice environmental stewardship, and give back to the community.  

Do you see how you could make money and have a positive impact on your community, your employees, your customers, your suppliers?  Let’s make a difference together!

Written by: Cindy C. Locklin is the President & CEO of Busy Bea’s Services, Inc. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce presented the company with the 2012 Epic Award for Woman-Owned Business of the Year. Photo: stock.xchng

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