when asked what exactly CSR means. “It’s really about how ethical you are and the integrity you display towards the people you work with and supply a service to.”
“Your staff members are part of everything you do. They should all be empowered to be the best they can be. Even if you employ just one other person, you should aim for that.”
“If you look at some of the big companies, like Johnson & Johnson, they are trying to cure diabetes and that’s a real social issue. It’s a completely different business paradigm.”
Roche points out such companies will want to associate with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have the right corporate responsibility ethos.
“Companies can reap the full benefits if they see they can attract a diverse background of people by offering flexi- or part-time work or jobs suited around the school terms. There is a way of attracting people to your company, and it’s not just nine to five, Monday to Friday.”
“The companies we are involved with on an SME level are fantastic and are thinking this through. They may not be using the terminology, but they are doing it.”
“If you are saying you use recycled paper from sustainable forests, well then all of your suppliers have to know that. If you’re using renewable energy, then you want your energy supplier to supply you with green energy.” In other words, it’s not just coming from the big companies down, she says.
Crucial business advantages gained from being a responsible entrepreneur include reputation. “If you’re in the supply chain, it’s one of the things, apart from your price, that speaks volumes about you. If your business is putting in for tenders and everything is equal in price, what makes the difference? It’s that you’re trusted…”
Barriers affecting greater implementation of CSR are not that overwhelming, Roche believes. “The biggest one is failing to stand back and think strategically about CSR…if you start to measure and benchmark what you’re doing, simple things can lead to bigger and bigger things.”
As for the future of CSR, Roche sees more social issues being integrated into the fabric of business strategy. Companies will also start holding on to people with high-end knowledge because of the values they espouse.