Something to celebrate?

The European CSR Awards scheme (details of the awards scheme here)  presents a wonderful opportunity for the EU to join together and recognise the importance of CSR and celebrate great initiatives.

Over the coming months we will undoubtedly see some inspiring examples of projects between businesses and non-business organisations that are creating positive social change.

But it’s not only big projects that bring about positive changes. CSR isn’t just about bold, pioneering initiatives. While these are always welcome and to be celebrated, CSR initiatives, no matter how small, can bring about positive changes.

Large corporate companies may be in a position to make huge financial investments, which clearly show what a difference business can make to our society. Of course it doesn’t do your reputation any harm to be seen as ‘doing good,’ but looking after the company’s reputation should not be the primary driver here.  A lack of ‘authenticity’ and evidence of embedded values throughout an organisation can quickly lead to scepticism.

Businesses that consistently strive to demonstrate responsible working practices earn a reputation which staff and customers can feel good about, and rightly so.
Improving staff engagement, reducing environmental impacts, ‘extracurricular’ activities such as volunteering projects, charitable donations or increasingly monitoring and checking the supply chain, these are just some of the simple core ethics and values that can be built in to a business’ operation.

It is this growing culture that deserves real celebration.

The award scheme claims hidden champions will be recognised, especially smaller enterprises, who engage in innovative partnerships to maximise their positive impacts on society. But let’s not forget, it is the most basic ethical values and innovative ideas that drive every successful project.

So, one wonders, will this award scheme be delivering the right message? Will small companies be persuaded that CSR is about “big” projects and “big” impacts” rather than basic day-to-day endeavours? Could perhaps the 800,000 Euro cost of delivering the European Award Scheme have been used in a more productive manner to help and encourage SMEs in developing new ideas, business models, products and services which can ultimately result in resolving existing sustainable challenges?

We can all help to promote good ethical standards and provide solutions to emerging societal needs. Every business has the ability to inspire CSR excellence, but let’s remember that small steps and small initiatives are the way forward for most.