Five ways CSR is good for business as well as the soul

Jennifer Harvey, Director of CSR at Crown Worldwide, explains why we put CSR at the center of our business and what the benefits are for SMEs to do the same.

The Crown Hong Kong team kicking off the Golden Relay at the start of 2015

When Crown Worldwide was founded 50 years ago by her father Jim Thompson from a tiny office in Japan, putting corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the heart of the business was something unusual.

Perhaps it was Jim’s background – his father had to leave school at a very young age to help support a large family and in fact both of his parents grew up quite poor. That inspired him to always remember those less fortunate. The fact that the business grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s in Asia, where at that time there were more people in need, was another influence.

But whatever the driver was, CSR soon became the heartbeat of the company as Crown spread into almost 60 countries and gradually went from one office to 265.

As Crown reaches the end of its 50th anniversary, it’s a good chance to reflect, it’s clear just how important CSR has been in the company’s growth. Not just because of the “feel-good factor” it generates, but because of the contribution it makes to the bottom line.

In the modern world CSR should not be seen as a little “extra”, it also has a real impact on business.

In 2015, a “Golden Relay” of charitable events across the world has seen our staff raise close to US$ 100,000 for local causes with more than 50 offices and 2,500 people taking part. 

The money is important – as well as the hundreds of volunteer days taken up by employees over the year – but so is the way those events have brought our people together, inspiring and fulfilling them in the process and helping them to work more productively.

Here then are five key ways we’ve seen CSR boost our business. Could it positively impact on your business in the same way?

1. Engages employees

CSR can help motivate people to challenge themselves and to work together as a team. Importantly, it also makes them feel good about where they work. This was evidenced by a 2015 Employee Engagement Survey conducted by Crown, in which one of the highest-rated categories for employee satisfaction was “the company enables me to make a difference”.

2. Wins (and grows) business

It may be difficult to accurately quantify, but there is no doubt that CSR is a contributing factor to attracting new business. The fact is that clients seek and even demand it. At Crown, every tender includes extensive questions about our CSR activities, metrics, reporting, certifications and progress.

3. Reduces staff turnover

CSR helps a company attract – and keep - great employees. Crown has offices across the world and it is no co-incidence that those with the lowest turnover of staff are those with the most CSR activity.

4. Creates a more productive work environment

Working on CSR projects lessens day-to-day conflicts in the office. In our experience, employees see the best in each other from working together in CSR. Seeing people in need can also put smaller problems in perspective. For global companies it is also a crucial tool in connecting people across borders and helping them feel part of one worldwide family.

5. Cuts costs

This can be achieved by taking advantage of government-sponsored training programs and incentives, by investing and benefitting from energy-efficient infrastructure (facilities, vehicles, equipment) and by measuring, monitoring and thereby improving electricity and fuel efficiency

The evidence, to us, is clear. Corporate social responsibility is not just about doing the right thing; putting CSR at the heart of a company makes it a healthier business, too.