Taking a stance, making a difference and believing in something has never been as important for businesses as it is today. Modern consumers are more environmentally and socially aware than ever before. They don’t want to buy products and services or even work for faceless corporations that put profit-making above all else. In fact, according to a PWC study (pdf), 86 percent of millennial employees would consider leaving a company if its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) values no longer matched their own. 

It used to be the case that CSR was seen as the preserve of national and multinational organisations with the resources to invest in initiatives that would benefit the environment, society and local communities. However, now smaller businesses are leading the way, increasingly putting policies that contribute to the betterment of society at the heart of their businesses. 

Here are a few examples of UK small businesses that are making a big difference to society and the environment one CSR initiative at a time.

A ‘One for One’ campaign

One simple way UK SMEs can embrace corporate social responsibility is by making a commitment to donate their products or services to a charity for free. The beauty of this approach is that you can adapt your strategy to suit your resources. For example, Piccolo Foods, a UK baby foods manufacturer, has committed to donating one pouch of baby food to charity for every pouch it sells in-store. However, you could choose to donate one product for every ten you sell, or even one for every 100, depending on what you can comfortably manage.

Reducing waste

Waste reduction has become a goal for conscientious businesses of every shape and size. Not only are the environmental benefits compelling, but there are also significant advantages in the form of increased efficiencies and reduced costs. 

Cocofina, a UK coconut product company, wanted to reduce the food waste from its oil production process. Rather than throwing out the coconut water that was produced as a by-product of the manufacturing process, it decided to ferment it to create coconut water – a new product it now sells. This is the perfect example of how CSR strategies can benefit a business, reducing waste but also creating a new income stream at the same time. 

The office fruit supplier Fruitful Office is another firm that’s taking its responsibilities seriously. It donates the equivalent of two tonnes of fresh fruit to the food charity FareShare every week. That fruit is then given to charities and turned into meals, helping to fight hunger across the UK while reducing the firm’s food waste. 

Reducing your environmental impact

As we’ve already explained, being ‘green’ is certainly not the only CSR approach businesses can take, but given the climate crisis we currently face, an increasing number of small businesses are doing everything they can to reduce their impact on the environment.

Simple changes such as going paperless, investing in electric company vehicles and paying for energy that comes from renewable energy sources are all examples of simple steps you can take which might not grab the headlines, but show you’re aware of and care about the critical issues we now face. 

What examples of small business CSR initiatives have you seen that have caught your attention? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.