Blog | Social enterprise

Maximising your social impact in a cost-neutral way

Many corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies involve allocating profits to good causes, making charitable donations, establishing charitable foundations or giving staff time for volunteering activity. All really worthy activity, but all requiring financial investment by the company. What if you could maximise your impact on the local community in a cost-neutral way?

By Mike Erskine · October 8, 2019

See this page in: Cymraeg

By Rhian Edwards

Lead Consultant, Social Business Connect from the Wales Co-operative Centre

Many corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies involve allocating profits to good causes, making charitable donations, establishing charitable foundations or giving staff time for volunteering activity. All really worthy activity, but all requiring financial investment by the company. What if you could maximise your impact on the local community in a cost-neutral way?

Implementing CSR policies can demonstrate your company values and show you have an awareness of the wider impact of your business. It’s not enough anymore to just deliver good services and products. Consumers are now putting pressure on companies to act in a socially responsible manner, with a new generation of employees looking to work for businesses which are aware of their operational impact on the rest of society and the environment.

Research also shows effective CSR marketing can help give you the edge over your competitors. Effective promotion of CSR credentials externally can help you win new business, plus it can bring benefits internally too with increased staff loyalty, engagement and productivity.

Buy Social for a Better World campaign (w/c 7th October)

Reviewing the way you buy essential goods and services for your business and re-directing some of this expenditure to the social business sector is an effective, cost-neutral way of maximising social value, giving your business a great CSR advantage.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we have been involved in securing a number of contracts between the private and social business sector in the last 12 months, which shows a real willingness from private businesses to be inclusive and look beyond traditional routes of procurement. However, this type of trading isn’t happening regularly enough and a lot of it comes down to perception.

As the lead development agency for the social business sector in Wales since 1982, we know the sector is the strongest and most diverse it’s ever been in this country. Latest mapping data tells us the sector is worth an estimated £3.18bn to the Welsh economy, supporting approximately 55,000 jobs and offering opportunities to around 58,000 volunteers to upskill and secure potential future employment.

Social businesses can also help deliver the goals of building a prosperous and resilient Wales by developing an economy and communities that are strong, resilient and sustainable. Social businesses are anchored in their communities with any investment used for economic and social benefits within the local or wider community.  While such enterprises often operate in hard to reach, economically-challenged communities, they often employ more people relative to turnover than other businesses. Many people think that social businesses tend to offer more consumer facing services. But in fact there is a strong B2B offer covering a diverse range of goods and services, including; toiletries, cleaning services, confidential waste management, recycling, office furniture, flooring, catering, marketing, translation, signage, facilities management, and training to name a few.

The list is endless and there are thousands of social businesses out there delivering valuable work in their community with quality outputs to boot. It is just a question of identifying who they are, what they offer and how to engage with them. So, if you’re ready to make a positive difference through your buying practices without impacting your bottom line then investing in the social business sector is an area well worth considering.

Rhian Edwards is the lead consultant for Social Business Connect (SBC) from the Wales Co-operative Centre. SBC is a new commercial consultancy service to help businesses develop their supply chains with the social business sector. It has been designed in consultation with the public and private sector.

 

Buy Social for a Better World campaign (w/c 7th October)

“It’s not enough anymore to just deliver good services and products. Consumers are now putting pressure on companies to act in a socially responsible manner.”

Rhian Edwards, Lead Consultant, Social Business Connect

rhian.edwards@wales.coop