For many organisations in Malta, ‘corporate social responsibility’ can be a loaded term – mainly because its meaning is unclear. At its core, the definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is self-evident; to engage in CSR, corporate organisations must operate in such a way that benefits society, systemically.
Simple, right? The concept is straightforward enough that companies understand that they play a role in the wellbeing of society, especially as organisations that bring people together, and businesses that influence the local economy as well as culture. The confusion around CSR seems to start with scale. Where do organisations begin? Should they run nationwide initiatives, or should they start small and focus on supporting their staff? This then leads to questions about logistics, like who should be handling CSR tasks and responsibilities? and where do they draw the line?
Very often it’s these kind of questions that present a number of obstacles for organisations, leading to frustration and inaction.
That being said, in a country like Malta which has strong religious roots where generosity holds high value in society, many companies engage in small-scale, unplanned CSR by making donations to their charity of choice, employing underprivileged members of their community, or making allowances for long-term employees who fall on hard times.
But CSR is about a lot more than signing cheques and taking pity on others. Offering financial support is indeed a key element in supporting the local community – however, having a strong CSR strategy in place calls for much more than this – and reaps far more long term results.
A fully rounded CSR strategy is built upon seven pillars:
- Organisational Governance
- Labour Practices
- Human Rights Impact
- Consumer Issues
- Fair Operating Practices
- Community Development
Investing in a strategy which encapsulates how your business can tackle these areas within your industry, according to your capacity, will lead to a business that not only operates in the most ethical and standardised way possible – but also a business that empowers its employees to engage in social change, because by making their lives better, they can pay it forward to others – and ultimately back to the business itself.
So, when does CSR stop being a recurring pending item on quarterly meeting agendas, and when does it become crucial for business?
According to a recent study, 89.7 % of small Maltese enterprises are not achieving their full potential.
The biggest question here is what are local businesses investing in to unlock this potential? When asked what their main investment over the previous months was, most businesses indicated an ‘upgrade in the IT system’, and therefore, unsurprisingly, over 40% answered ‘no’ when asked if their business was achieving its full potential; while another staggering 49.7% said that ‘given the rights tools, we can achieve more’.
When most businesses are aware that they’re not fulfilling their full potential, why do they keep making the same mistakes?
Here’s something to reflect on:
- Society, and ultimately your customers, are increasingly aware and concerned about environmental and social issues
- Companies are nowadays expected to do more than just generate revenue and increase profits
This is where corporate social responsibility comes in. Unless businesses inject CSR into their core operations, they will continue struggling to survive in the market.
CSR is a crucial tool through which a business can distinguish itself from the competition, attract more customers, increase sales and ultimately be more profitable. Businesses which don’t adapt will hit a major setback, whereas those that are ready to integrate CSR into their strategy will be able to overcome this challenge.
This approach has helped companies of all sizes across the globe to distinguish themselves from their competitors and become leaders in their fields, and it has the potential to do the same for you. Just think – only this past month Gillette is the brand that has been on everyone’s lips.
NM Group has teamed up with Weave Consulting – The CSR Specialists to help you to understand CSR and implement it in your business. With funding schemes available to cover the costs of the service, this is an opportunity that your business cannot afford to miss. With our CSR and Funding teams, we’ll be able to assist you with this from start to finish.
It’s a new world out there and we can provide you with the tools to fight off the competition and come out on top! If you’re ready to get started, get in touch today.