We live in a world where we are often faced with social challenges, from the impact of climate change to gender inequality, to name just a couple. Once upon a time, some businesses may have considered these problems ‘none of our business’. But the world has changed, and many customers and business owners are united in believing that we can all make a difference.
We surveyed 500 large and small business owners to find out what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means to them, what sorts of issues are close to their heart, and whether those sceptical about CSR could be persuaded otherwise.
- 45% of businesses think a good CSR strategy can improve their business’s reputation.
- Over half (52%) of business owners say they don’t have a clear CSR strategy.
- Lack of resources (37%) was cited as the main barrier to implementing CSR, rising to 54% amongst hospitality businesses.
- Health, wellbeing and equality was cited as the most important societal development for businesses – cited by 47% of owners – followed by climate change (40%).
- Almost half (48%) of respondents believe their business can improve its CSR strategy.
The benefits of giving back
The social benefits of supporting charitable causes go without saying. Businesses that get behind worthy causes help to raise valuable funds and increase public awareness of important issues, from homelessness to hunger. But there’s an extra bonus: businesses with a heart of gold could also hit upon a crock of gold. Before we look at our study in more detail, here are some key facts we’ve learnt.
A carefully planned CSR strategy could have a positive impact not just on society, but on the bottom line.
In fact, a three-year study by the Kenexa High Performance Institute found that companies with a good CSR rating enjoy business returns that are 19 times higher than those with a poor rating.
Businesses that take their social responsibilities seriously may witness the upside not just for people and the planet, but their profit margins too.
UK business gets it
While not every business has a solidified CSR strategy in place, we found that in the majority of cases, UK business owners see the value in doing their bit for society. But aside from a warm, fuzzy feeling, what’s in it for businesses?
As our survey suggests, many businesses don’t simply experience tangible benefits, like increased sales, but intangible improvements like the way their brand is perceived. A new generation of socially-conscious customers are looking to spend their hard-earned cash in supporting businesses that do the right thing. In fact, our charity partner, Pennies, commissioned some consumer research, undertaken by markettiers, and found that 30% of consumers would show more loyalty to a business that offered customers a way to donate to charity.
The barriers to giving back
Even with the best will in the world, not every business may be able to give back as much as they’d like. We asked business owners what they consider to be the main barriers that prevent businesses from implementing a CSR strategy in general.
While 38% cited financial considerations as a reason to withhold from CSR initiatives, is this ‘cost-cutting’ measure a false economy? As we covered earlier, a Work for Good study found that 68% of businesses experience a positive impact on their profitability when they give to charities regularly.
We also uncovered the different barriers to charitable giving across sectors. 54% of hospitality business owners cited ‘lack of resources’ as a barrier to implementing CSR – the highest response of any sector. Meanwhile, business owners in the construction sector pointed to a lack of measurement system (30%) and high regulatory standards (26%) as a reason not to pursue CSR. Every business will of course have different realities on the ground, but as we hope to show, a well-planned CSR strategy can help overcome concerns and do the power of good for communities.
How can businesses walk the walk?
Of course, in a world of opinions, some business owners are simply sceptical about the effectiveness of CSR. According to our survey, 34% of business owners consider CSR ‘not very important’, which rose to 47% among media companies.
Perhaps one way for business owners to win over the sceptics in their ranks is to focus not just on fine words, but on actions. For example, LEGO are investing $400m (around £300m) into sustainability efforts, including the phasing out of single-use plastics by 2025. Elsewhere, ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s publishes a range of climate change goals, including the transfer to 100% renewable energy by 2025. These examples may just be a drop in the ocean (and there are many other examples of other businesses with clear cut CSR strategies out there), but collectively, the power of business to bring about transformative change is immense.
However, while it’s important to align with the values of your customers, should businesses tread carefully? There is arguably a risk of negative backlash if stated CSR goals, like sustainability, aren’t embedded in a business’s day-to-day operations. This is where the benefit of a clear CSR strategy could come in.
As our survey shows, many businesses want to do more, but don’t feel they’re equipped to deliver change. But with the right staffing, resources and processes in place, businesses could fulfil their stated goals and engender brand loyalty over the long-term.
Ways to give back
You’ve got to walk before you can fly, but once a business has the capability to implement a CSR plan, what are the most urgent social issues that need addressing? We wanted to find out the global trends and social developments that are most important to businesses.
Across all industries, we found that health, wellbeing and equality was the option that was most frequently cited, and particularly in the manufacturing (77%), hospitality (68%) and media (67%) sectors.
With millions of people reassessing their work and life priorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, do businesses have an opportunity to reset their relationship with their staff? The Pennies and markettiers study found that over half of consumers (53%) believe that a positive legacy of the pandemic is that we have become a more caring society that is mindful of other people’s hardships. Ultimately, CSR can be viewed not as a cost to be borne, but an opportunity to be seized.
Why we’re proud of Tyl Giveback
For our part, we’re so pleased to have granted a total of £150,000 to amazing organisations through our Giveback Community Fund. This includes Hospice UK, who train carers and support families so that people’s end-of-life care is as comfortable as possible. We hope our support for Hospice UK ensures they can continue to create extra care capacity and support families coping with grief. We’ve also backed Macmillan Cancer Support and their tireless work on behalf of those diagnosed with cancer and their families; the money from Tyl Giveback has helped support Macmillan at a time where their usual fundraising efforts have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And we’re pleased to have raised funds for The Prince’s Trust and their invaluable work in supporting young people fulfil their career goals – discover how Giveback funds have supported young entrepreneurs like Binta’s Kitchen founder Farhana Ibrahim.
How does Tyl Giveback work?
For every card payment a business takes using Tyl (fees and eligibility criteria apply), a portion of our revenue is donated to a range of charities and community projects around the UK. We work closely with Pennies, the UK’s leading fintech (financial technology) charity, to ensure the funds are allocated to where they’re most needed. In October, we were delighted to win the Pennies Breakthrough Award in recognition of Tyl Giveback. We hope the Giveback programme provides inspiration to any business looking to embed a CSR strategy and make a difference in our communities.
No turning back from giving back
There is no quick fix to the societal challenges we face, but every pound we raise together could help strengthen the communities of today and tomorrow. And behind every fundraising total are stories of lives transformed. At Tyl, we’re proud to give back to some amazing charities through our Giveback Community Fund. Find out what we’re up to over at Tyl Talks, and below, you can read about some of the other research campaigns we’ve led:
Are you looking to make some small changes that could make a big difference? At Tyl, we’re determined to provide the simplest way to take card payments. No matter how or where you take payments, our card machines might just offer the solution you need.
Tyl by NatWest commissioned a survey of 500 business owners from all company sizes in November 2021 to find out what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means to them and how it may impact their business.
We have also used existing data to understand the effects of CSR in the UK more widely.
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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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