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How many small businesses have CSR strategies?

by Claire Martinsen on Tue 06th Dec 2011 03:07


Corporate and Social responsiblity [CSR] is oft bandied about in the world of big business. It’s just one of the things that occupies the mind of big business – how can they impact the wider community in which they operate.  The picture above is of the Boots CSR Scorecard whereby they consider 19 elements of impact.  Boots group their CSR monitoring across four areas: Marketplace, Workplace, Environment and Community – other businesses cover similar areas.  Some businesses have ‘CSR’ champions or directors;  they report at a board level; they include it in their annual reports.  CSR is a hot topic!

So it was interesting moving from the world of big business where CSR was mentioned very regularly to the world of small business where it is hardly [if ever] mentioned.  Its quite a stark difference!  Does this mean that all the big corporates are focussing on the impact that their businesses has, whereas small businesses operate in a vacuum unaware of any external factors?

Not at all! In fact I would say it is quite the reverse……smaller businesses are so entrenched in their local communities that CSR comes as second nature, something that is part of doing business and not something that many small business owners even think or consider.  Most small businesses have CSR credentials that the big corporates would die to have, yet ask them if they have a CSR strategy and they would probably say ‘no’.

In small business CSR is less about setting strategy and vison and much more about ‘just doing it’ – ie walking the walk and talking the talk!

So does Breckland Orchard have a CSR strategy?  The answer is no.  But ask me if playing a part in the community and world that we operate matters then its a big yes.  But like most small business owners I do it as second nature.

So what kind of things does that mean?

  • Recycling is important
    I bottle into glass which is 100% recyclable, and then the bottles are packed in to good old fashioned cardboard boxes.  We probably could shrink wrap, and I know that technically shrink wrap can be recycled – but its not widely available and I think using cardboard means that it stands a higher chance of getting re-used rather than dumped in a skip!
  • Industry Participation
    I’m a Board member of Tastes of Anglia – the Food and Marketing group for the East of England.  Its an unpaid role, and I give up my time willingly.  I want to play a part in the vibrant food and drink industry that we have in East Anglia, and to champion the great things that happen in the region.  It would perhaps be easy to say that ‘I’m too busy’ but I think its important to give time to help further the entire industry.
  • Encouraging other Female Entrepreneurs
    I’m a female entrepreneur and am keen to support others thinking of going down the same route.  I adore running my own business and if I can encourage others to do the same thing then that makes me incredibly happy and proud. To that end I am a UK Female Entrepreneur Ambassador part of a UK network that encourages and supports others.
  • Involved in the local Business Community
    When I worked for big business  I barely met anyone from outside the immediate company – in hindsight we were just incredibly insular, and I have no idea why….maybe there just wasn’t enough time.  As a small business I feel much more integrated into other small businesses round and about – be that as a member of Wayland Women in Business, Norwich Business Womens Network or helping to judge this years EDP Future 50 companies.
  • Buying Local where possible
    I use local suppliers where ever possible.  My labels are printed just a few miles down the road, the boxes come from Great Yarmouth, my website was designed locally, I use a local graphic designer, local haulage company to deliver my products etc. Bottles are a little harder, since most of them are make on the continent and I’d love to buy my fruit locally – and I’m constantly on the hunt for that!

Are we perfect – probably not, but are we trying to play our part…………..absolutely.  Here’s to more in the future!


Posted in: Running a micro-business


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