Corporate Social Responsibility

by Becky Toal and Veronica Broomes

People and workplace

People and workplace issues can present very real risks to financial performance. There are high costs involved in recruiting talented staff and retaining key staff members.

How can your organisation become an employer of choice?

For any business, the focus here clearly needs to be on understanding what the greatest asset to the business (in other words, its people) requires. The obvious step is to ask people. If you do this, some of the common things that come up on the list are

  • Addressing work-life balance issues
  • Offering training and development
  • Implementing diversity policies
  • Addressing a culture of long working hours
  • Improving the quality of management.

Some companies formally articulate their policies with documents, such as a code of business conduct or people values statements.

Things any manager can do

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer

Does your organisation undertake measures to ensure staff engagement, such as yearly staff feedback and staff surveys? This will allow management to elicit the views of staff and also gives new staff an opportunity to help shape the organisation’s CSR agenda. Too often, organisations get stuck with the historical, especially with the feel-good factor associated with organisations being philanthropic, but they fail to consider the business case for an initiative or to find out whether or not current employees have bought into the organisation’s approach to CSR.

Additional ways in which organisations can add to the positive impact of their operations on society and the environment is by considering requirements for and, possibly, participating in programmes such as Investors in People and the BITC’s annual CSR Index.


Carry out a team-building exercise based on the three strands of CSR and explore with staff how this already applies to present activities of the organisation, while considering additional areas that could be included at no extra expense or at low cost. Areas emerging during such team discussions may include the organisation’s position on

  • Using public transport for travel to work and attending meetings (lowering carbon emissions, fewer car parking payments)
  • Support for flexible working, for both social and environmental benefits (work/life balance, shorter working weeks, fewer desks, less travel)
  • Switching off equipment when not in use (savings on energy bills and carbon emissions)
  • Purchasing energy-efficient lighting
  • Recycling printer cartridges and office equipment (reduce waste going to landfill, support charities in fund raising)
  • Support for a diversified supplier base, such as local businesses, smaller suppliers or businesses owned by minorities
  • Supporting employees who want to cycle to work, if your organisation is based in a built-up urban area. This could include providing cycle racks, facilities for showering and access to nationally-available interest-free loans (funding to support such initiatives is available from some local authorities or national programmes).