CSR for SMEs
CSR should apply to organisations of all sizes and sectors but the extent of the processes that are put in place in any particular organisation will depend on factors such as the size of the enterprise and the nature of its operations. In Ireland 99% of companies operating are SMEs (less than 250 employees) and over 98% have less than 50 employees.
For most small and medium-sized enterprises, especially microenterprises, CSR is likely to remain informal and intuitive, whereas larger enterprises may have dedicated CSR resources and formal CSR programmes.
By being a responsible, sustainable business, you will save money (energy, packaging etc.), win consumers, encourage innovative business practices and inspire your people.
The Business Benefits of CSR
Carefully implemented CSR policies can help SMEs to :
- Win new business and increase customer retention;
- Develop and enhance relationships with suppliers and networks;
- Attract, retain and maintain a happy workforce and become an employer of choice;
- Save money on energy and operating costs and manage risk;
- Improve your business reputation;
- Attract investment and funding opportunities.
CSR issues for SMEs are essentially the same as for larger companies but many SMEs are intrinsically connected to the local communities in which they operate. For SMEs CSR is often simply part of how they operate as good citizens.
However CSR can be more challenging for smaller businesses, as they are unlikely to have dedicated CSR resources. The type of supports required by small businesses may also be different to those required by larger companies.
There is excellent guidance on CSR for SMEs available from a number of organisations:
- ISME provides concise guidance in its CSR Advice Centre.
- Chambers Ireland CSR Guide for SMEs.pdf (size 2.3 MB) Chambers Ireland holds an Annual CSR Awards which has a category specifically for SMEs.
- Business in the Community Ireland has a website Responsible Business for SMEs which is focused specifically on the needs of SMEs and which provides a range of useful resources.
- Green Business is a free resource efficiency service for all types of SMEs in Ireland. The Green Business SME Efficiency And Cost Reduction Questionnaire enables an overview of Resource Efficiency in your company to identify your business can become more efficient and reduce costs.
The European Commission also provides a range of resources for SMEs interested in CSR: