By Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurs at Smith & Williamson

What role should ‘corporate responsibility' play in the activities of a growing, entrepreneurial business?

Think strategically

• Staff, customers and suppliers increasingly want to work with a business that takes social responsibility seriously, and there are valuable paybacks

• A single business can only expect to have a tiny impact on social needs but you can make a difference if you pick a local issue that is relevant to your business. A win-win position builds energy and perseverance

• Working with networks such as Business in the Community (www.bitc.org.uk) can rapidly increase your effectiveness, contacts and profile in a local market

Shape your brand

• Be clear about your brand values (what your business ‘stands for'; the service and behaviours that staff, customers and suppliers can expect)

• Recognise that you are part of a supply chain and that, increasingly, big customers require social and environmental responsibility from suppliers

• Swim with this tide and build these values into your brand

Engage staff

• Recruitment data is very clear: good staff want to work for socially-responsible employers

• Clarify what you offer staff (e.g. volunteering opportunities)

• Provide time and opportunity for staff to shape and mobilise social and environmental projects (productivity and loyalty will be the payback)

Reduce your carbon footprint

• Recognise that environmental responsibility goes along with good management of resources and it usually reduces your costs

• Measure, manage and reduce your carbon footprint and consider offsetting the remainder through a reputable provider

• Obtain external validation of your carbon footprint if you intend to publish your achievements to an external audience

If you're grappling with any of these or other similar issues, please email guy.rigby@smith.williamson.co.uk or call 020 7131 8213 to find out more.

This article is part of the Entrepreneurs' Toolkit series, produced by Smith & Williamson. More information on this and other toolkit topics is available at www.smith.williamson.co.uk

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