Small and medium companies are often distinguished with high social responsibility. However, they are unaware how to convert the potential of responsibility into benefits for their businesses.
Corporate Social Responsibility in the SME Sector: Best Practices, Ministry of Employment and Economy of Finland, Centre for responsible business at the Turku school of Economics, 2009
People often ask, whether corporate responsibility is only for large businesses, or if that could be important for small companies as well. Why small and medium companies with much smaller human and financial resources than large enterprises should assume more responsibilities? In fact, many small and medium businesses have naturally been implementing CSR initiatives throughout the years, though without referring to them as CSR and without properly communicating such activities.
„In response to a survey conducted in UK in 2015, a half of the participating small enterprises stated they did not have CSR programs. However, it turned out that, in fact, they carried out many CSR related initiatives“.
Small and medium enterprises may not be aware of or be using the term “corporate responsibility”, but their relationship with employees, suppliers, partners and the community might be in compliance with high responsibility standards. For this size enterprises this process is more intuitive.
Correct planning and communication of corporate responsibility activities can help small and medium businesses to be distinguished from their peers, establish partnerships with foreign/global companies, attract investments and raise their local reputation. Therefore, it is important to bring positive outcomes of CSR and the ways of its implementation to the attention of small and medium size companies.
“Implementation of corporate responsibility is not an extremely difficult and highly costly task. Stage by stage adoption of social responsibility approaches, their gradual development and coordination with business interests will ultimately open new opportunities for small and medium companies and lead to improved performance”.
”Because many small and medium companies are naturally operating in a responsible way, integration of CSR into their activities does not mean these companies should transform their operations, but rather - they should maximally increase the effectiveness of their existing CSR practices. Thus, social responsibility is not an extra burden for the companies. In fact, it only means to do something you have already been doing in a better way and turn the existing reality into your competitive advantage”.
Corporate Social Responsibility Toolkit for Small and Medium Companies, Tbilisi, 2018
Usually, social responsibility programs of small and medium enterprises cover one or more of the below listed areas:
It is not necessary for a company to spend similar efforts on each of the above-mentioned areas at a time. Prioritizing the issues and concentrating on the most relevant ones would be much more effective. After having the first success, it is always possible to add other new activities.
If this is your first time dealing with a social responsibility issue, it is better to start from a smaller scale activity and draw your attention to such initiative that is in direct relation with your business operations, and which, you think, you are able to accomplish.
Later on, you can gradually expand the area of your responsible actions and make them more comprehensive and systematic. This is how most small and medium companies do – they do not stop at only one direction and prefer to adopt wider approaches. Thus, responsibility turns into an inseparable part of their business concept and activities.