Your business makes an impact on the world simply by being there. Your very presence and existence affects the people around you, your community, the economy and the wider environment.
So it’s well worth making sure that you have a positive impact, operating in a considerate, sustainable way that actively benefits stakeholders, your local area and the planet at large.
This can be summed up as corporate responsibility, and putting this at the heart of your business strategy can have countless benefits, from giving your business a unique selling point to helping you attract and retain top talent.
But before we discuss how to create a corporate responsibility programme for your business, let’s drill down into exactly what it means.
There are four areas of responsibility for you and your business to focus on.
Workplace - Looking after your employees and other stakeholders who are involved in delivering your product or service.
Marketplace - Making sure your products and services comply with the law, such as tax and data protection regulations.
Environment - As the world looks to decarbonise and tackle climate change, your business can play a part by improving or reducing your environmental impact.
Community - Steps you can take to make a positive contribution to society, such as sponsoring local community events and supporting good causes.
Devising a successful corporate responsibility strategy
The first step is to establish exactly what corporate responsibility means to you, and define what it means to you and your business. Your answers will probably cover all four of the areas we described above, but as a financial services provider, making sure the service you deliver is legally compliant is likely to be one key issue that could mark you out for all the right reasons.
Next, you should identify the concerns of people involved with your business, such as your clients and members of staff. The issues they flag up could help you establish key points that need to be prioritised and addressed.
After garnering opinion from business stakeholders, you should then find out where their concerns overlap with your definition of corporate responsibility and decide what is most relevant to your business. You’ll then be in a position to put together specific corporate responsibility objectives, which should ideally be aligned with your wider business goals and values.
Once you’ve defined your objectives, you need to set measurable targets and work out how you’re going to monitor progress. You’ll then be able to track your performance using clear metrics to see if you’re making genuine progress, or if you’re falling short and need to change your strategy.
Talk up your successes
If you achieve good results, promote them as part of your wider marketing strategy, as this can help you stand out to prospective clients and potential recruits.
Both customers and jobseekers are increasingly value-driven and want to spend money or work with a company that reflects their ethos and views, so highlighting your corporate responsibility successes can make you an appealing option to each group.
Ultimately, consumers and jobseekers are far more discerning about the companies they engage with, and want to be seen to do the right thing by their peers.
A corporate responsibility programme can be just as good for them as it is for you, and help you attract people who subscribe to your company values. It can also be aligned with your wider business goals. For example, if you want to increase your company’s appeal to investors, enhance your brand reputation and boost employee engagement, a corporate responsibility programme can play a critical part in making all this happen.
We should stress, however, that a successful corporate responsibility programme relies on the buy-in and support of senior figures within your business. It is important for you to live and breathe the message you’re conveying, and be seen to do so, both by staff and the wider community. Otherwise, your personal and brand credibility could be called into question.
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