good csr restart

Good CSR Amid COVID-19

As we all sit in our homes and attempt to answer the inevitable ‘what next’ question while still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are also taking stock, reviewing how they work, where they work and, therein, their own approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

At the heart of these discussions lies purpose. As many start to look ahead to a recovery phase, firms with a clear sense – and ability to communicate – their purpose find themselves best positioned to shape their own CSR amid the Covid-19 crisis. They will already know who they are, they will see their employees as integral to their successes and many will have existing partnerships with charities and causes that dovetail with a set of guiding principles.

The questions they are asking now are how best to help and what special skills they bring to the table to help their communities – and their customers – to balance competing priorities and navigate these challenging times. It is clear that businesses have a powerful role to play as we inch towards recovery. An opportunity to respond, reset, and rebuild. Moving from a symptomatic to a systemic approach means thinking about the long-term implications of the pandemic, and the opportunities to lead by example to develop socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable responses to the crisis.

Some have already taken crucial steps in this direction.

Viiv Healthcare, a specialist in HIV health care, moved quickly to announce the creation of a £3 million Global HIV and Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund for projects to study the medical impact of the virus on people living with HIV along with community-based grants to help address specific challenges to the HIV community. Their purpose is clear, and they immediately looked for the obvious next step – the impact on the people directly linked to that purpose.

They are not alone. Npower already has in place its fuel bank voucher scheme through the network of Trussell Trust foodbanks. Relying on independent referrals from GPs or social workers, those in crisis are able to access fuel credit and do not have to choose between ‘eating and heating’ – a powerful message in a time of crisis from one of the UK’s ‘big six’ energy providers.

Others have taken an industry-wide approach to send a wider message about what can be done when a community of businesses join forces. The Association of British Insurers (ABI), along with the UK’s long-term savings industry, created an umbrella Covid-19 Support Fund with a target of raising £100million from its members to assist charities.

Employees are an integral part of CSR amid COVID-19

For any of this to work in practice, firms need to bring their employees with them in delivering meaningful CSR. Whether launching employee engagement campaigns to raise funds, match funding for employee giving, or making a clear commitment to sustainability and well-being initiatives, businesses with a holistic view reap the rewards and naturally build trust, credibility and support for the work they do.

These champions help firms to not only achieve financial or sales targets but also to arrive where they want to be as leading members of the communities in which they operate.

Klara Kozlov

By Klara Kozlov

Head of Corporate Clients and Consultancy, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)

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