For an SME, savings and superior quality of the work provided are the indirect benefits of putting a CSR policy in place. Explanations
Performing a CSR assessment
Very often, SMEs develop numerous responsible practices without realizing it. Nevertheless, as with any project, putting a CSR policy in place requires establishing an assessment to identify the possible risks of negative impacts of the company’s activities on society and the environment. The company director’s conviction is very important. The assessment may thus be carried out internally by a “CSR group” consisting of the company director, a member of his or her team, the employee responsible for CSR or the verification of compliance, human resources or communications. For small enterprises, which have neither the time nor the resources to keep abreast of all the standards, the OECD has put in place guidelines that examine all aspects of CSR and allows an assessment of practices to be performed quickly.
Focusing on the fundamentals
The nature and scope of due diligence depend on factors such as the size of the company, the context and location of its activities, the nature of its products and services, and the severity of the real and potential negative impacts. Once the risks of negative impacts are identified, they should be corrected. Companies should take steps to reduce these impacts when they occur. They should strive to prevent or mitigate a negative impact in the event that they did not contribute to it but are still directly linked to it through their activities, products or services by a business relationship.
Aiming for continuous improvement and innovation
It is vital for companies to question themselves regularly through discussions with the company’s stakeholders on how CSR can be improved. A label or certificate is not required, but can help companies achieve a higher standard. The perspective of stakeholders (e.g. employees, suppliers, neighbors, or civil society organizations) is important for understanding a company’s CSR priorities. SMEs often already handle their contacts informally. However, they must systematize their contacts (e.g. with mapping and a few standard questions) without generating a great deal of bureaucratic work.
Being surrounded by external partners
External partners may be useful for identifying the measures to be taken and measuring the progress made: consultants, lawyers, specialized companies. Very often, they are involved for the first time to put in place a strategy over several years as well as indicators, particularly with regard to the environment or human resources. They will then be occasionally approached to calculate or certify the obtained results.
Communicating CSR actions
Lastly, communication, such as through an annual report, a marketing campaign, or brand repositioning, is essential to ensure that the initiated CSR measures are well understood. Providing information about the subject requires relying on actual, measured, or even proven elements.