Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated to CSR, can be described as a corporation's self-regulated initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company's impact on society and the environment. The term generally applies to the efforts that ensures active compliance within the spirit of law, ethical standards and national and international norms. Nowadays CSR approaches taken by many corporations seek to go beyond compliance and engage in actions that deliver further social good, beyond the interests of the organisation and that which are required by law.
CSR is becoming an ever-increasing feature in the UK construction arena, particularly through client driven agenda. In the public sector domain, the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 has been instrumental in bringing about a stepped change. The Act requires that all public bodies in England and Wales, including local authorities, are required to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the socioeconomic and environmental well-being of the area they serve. Outside of the public sector, industries such as retail, utilities, transport and infrastructure are also putting CSR at the heart of their corporate delivery.
Another area where CSR is having impact in the construction sector, is in that of skills and recruitment. The construction sector is cited with having significant skills gaps and shortages as we move towards 2020 and beyond. Many commentators believe that responsible business practice is one way to support new recruitment, particularly in attracting the younger generation, and it is the hypothesis of this programme that CSR will support the Construction Industry Training Board's (CITB) strategic priorities to overcome this situation.
Research carried out in 2016 by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and Project Five Consulting has highlighted that CSR is often misunderstood amongst many construction business and that due to time, money and resource, they can lack the skills to implement CSR activities, gather information and report on their CSR performance. With this in mind, the NFB has successfully secured funding from CITB to work with construction organisations to help them, understand, embed and implement CSR across their organisation.
- To embed a culture of ongoing training and development, raising awareness of support available to assist in securing apprentices and sustainable approaches to skills and training, considering what skills are needed for the future and how training the workforce is an integral part of CSR
- To raise awareness of fairness, inclusion, respect and diversity issues including the benefits that this can bring when employers take an interest in their staff and are seen to be supporting their aspirations, employees feel more valued and become more motivated
- To inform businesses of how social value is being used in the procurement process and how it can contribute to CSR, and provide the knowledge to implement initiatives to achieve these outcomes enabling businesses to provide stronger responses in tenders to such client requirements in order to win more work and increase profitability
- To raise awareness of health issues and what organisations can do to help look after their workforce
- To provide knowledge and advice on environmental issues which also seek to plug the skills gap. The circular economy for example is a topic that is coming to the forefront in construction and will help attending organisations keep abreast of what is happening in this area so that that they can respond accordingly
As well as doing good, CSR provides many benefits to your organisation including the ability to:
- Win more business
- Increase customer retention
- Develop and enhance relationshipswith customers, suppliers and networks
- Attract, retain and maintain a happy work force and become an 'employer of choice'
- Save money on energy and operating costs and manage risk
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Improve your business reputation and standing