Social responsibility, in simple terms, means a business’s obligation to pursue ambitious yet achievable long-term goals for its people and the world at large. Even for small companies and start-ups, in today’s social conscious environment, employees and customers place a premium on working for and spending their money with businesses and products that prioritise CSR.
It can be all too easy for many companies to use CSR as a box-ticking exercise, to show they have a strategy that loosely interweaves buzzwords such as sustainability and responsibility. However, it’s starting to become clear that being a responsible company and giving back to society can bring so much more value to a business and not just the community it resides in.
So just why is this responsibility so important and how can it also add value to a company –especially in the tech world?
Attracting and retaining good employees
One of the major reasons people apply to various companies is because of their CSR strategy, as it can show that the company is compassionate and treats all people, including employees, well. And a company that shows this is more likely to attract the right talent.
At Opus and with our initiative partner _nology, we’re passionate about having more diversity and attracting talent into the tech sector from underrepresented backgrounds, and know the value that a diverse workforce can bring to a company, including new approaches, fresh ideas and more.
As well as benefitting from a more diverse workforce, CSR efforts also help foster a more productive and positive work environment. For example, Zappos, a shoe company owned by Amazon, grew their business by also donating shoes to charitable organisations and by adopting an internal culture through focusing on the wellbeing of their employees.
Perception of your brand – even for SMEs
Competition in business can be stiff, and especially in the tech world it can be challenging for a company to set itself or their product apart in the eyes of their customers.
Previously, having a CSR strategy was purely something for big tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft. However, it’s now seen as something even smaller companies are finding ways to incorporate – and so consumers are taking notice.
Businesses that take social responsibility seriously can win consumers, as well as develop a platform to market and earn their audiences attention. Basically, social responsibility can help people see your company as a positive force in society, and therefore raise awareness of your brand and put your business in a positive light.
Consumer loyalty goes a long way in helping a business stay afloat. And for that loyalty, consumers often expect brands and businesses to not all be about making profit, but also give back to society. According to a recent report, around a third of consumers were willing to pay more for a product or service if the business prioritised sustainability. Therefore, having better values at the core of your company not only benefits wider society and your customers, but also your business.
Better for business
Having a CSR strategy doesn’t necessarily sound like a money-making exercise because typically you’d have to invest money into projects. However, leading on from the Simon-Kucher report above, customers are willing to pay more – the report concluded up to 25% more – and be more loyal to brands, companies or products that are socially responsible, making potential profits even higher.
As well as this, with CSR helping to attract good employees and foster a better working environment, it could be a ticket for better retention for staff. Given that turnover can cost companies thousands, this could be a big win.
More attractive to potential investors
Having a CSR strategy in place might seem like more of a way to spend money than attract money and may seem out of reach for smaller businesses who don’t have the extra cash to volunteer. Yet being a responsible company could pay more in the long term.
Potential investors may see a company showing compassion within the community or incorporating sustainability into their business goals as a commitment to social change. This can be a great positioning for the long term, with value to customers and owners alike. It shows a long-term way of thinking and a commitment to people or the environment, not just money.
Better engagement with customers
Many forms of CSR involve businesses interacting directly with members of society or local community. Depending on the industry but certainly pertinent for tech, those people you engage with could be customers or potential ones. Engaging with the community can give you diverse feedback and viewpoints about your service or product, or even present you with new ideas.
As well as this, word-of-mouth is still a great form of advertising, and customers who have been part of or have benefitted from the social responsibility created by a company are able to tell other potential customers about the business.
So really, the ‘R’ in CSR is not just a corporate responsibility, but is something that we think every company should see as a benefit to business and success. It’s clearly no longer a box-ticking exercise, but an important way to add value, have more diverse points of view, and have new ways of doing business.
What we do
CSR is a huge part of Opus’s strategy and outlook. In fact, we set up our initiative partner _nology to address the lack of diversity within the technology sector – for example, just 19% of employees in tech are female.
So, through funding and tech training and securing employment for talented, passionate people from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds, we want to champion and invest in positive change within tech. This is facilitated via our CSR partnerships with organisations such as the Princes Trust, the Sutton Trust and more.
Employment opportunities are secured by the 2000+ organisations and companies we work with. We find talented, underrepresented people, fund their training, and dramatically increase their employability, helping them realise their full potential.
In fact, we guarantee a minimum of 10% of all places on our courses are reserved for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds – and we’ll not only cover the cost of their training, but also ensure they are fully supported throughout their journey.
This not only fills the gap in technology, but fills it with diverse talent and opens doors to a future that may not have been possible otherwise.
As well as this, Opus will use targeted campaigns to promote social mobility, and, alongside our existing initiatives, we work closely with _nology to create space in the tech sector for people from all backgrounds.
View our full D&I and Social Mobility policy here.