CSR - how are you doing?

COINED in the 1950’s, the phrase ‘corporate social responsibility’ or CSR, has become a key component of business development in today’s globally connected community.

Not only does a clear CSR programme send positive signals of care and responsibility for social and environmental wellbeing to employees, thus improving employee satisfaction and retention, it also makes good business sense through its ability to position CSR engaged companies as being founded on people-first principles, ethical values and social accountability.

No wonder then that major global corporations across all sectors such as Google, Novo-Nordisk and Lego place CSR at the heart of their brand identity.

CSR is a way to manage the connections between your business and the local community to the benefit of both parties, as well as the planet. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) provides standard guidance on how to develop CSR programmes, via ISO 26000 Social Responsibility, but how then can you put the global CSR theory into local practice here in the North-east?

One proven and successful option is to develop CSR relationships with third sector organisations whose activities and values align with those of your company. As a registered Scottish charity the Barn arts centre in Banchory has built a strong reputation for creative programmes that support the wellbeing and development of our communities, environmental sustainability across our venue, gardens and arts and ecology projects; and 25 years experience of working with community-based volunteers.

Volunteers are vital to our success in delivering a diverse arts programme and maintaining our buildings and green spaces. Working with volunteer teams and skills provided by local companies can also provide an additional, significant strand of CSR value, beyond financial support. This element of CSR activities also means that companies of any scale can get involved through their local workforce.

To help regional businesses navigate local opportunities for CSR and for us to generate further private–sector partnerships, we have recently launched the Barn Business Club, a scheme which offers a unique opportunity for regional companies to support our leading multi-arts venue, fulfil their CSR commitments as well as gaining employee benefits in return.

The benefits of CSR support to the Barn include:

  • Forging long-term working partnerships with regional businesses
  • Increased volunteers
  • Increased regional/national profile
  • Increased funding

For many businesses one of the main challenges in the CSR journey will be to find the right charity partner that will support your objectives and work with you successfully over the longer term for mutual benefit. The critical factor is to choose a charity that aligns with your organisation in terms of shared values, ethics and organisational objectives, and the third sector is home to many such organisations. When you find that connection, the benefits to your business, the charity, the local community and the environment will truly unlock.