Corporate Social Responsibility… what does it really mean?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term that’s bandied around quite frequently. Here at The Priory Rooms we like to think we tick the CSR box well and so we thought we’d look at the topic in further detail.
Firstly, we know CSR indicates something positive about the way a business operates, but what does CSR actually mean?...
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate conscience or responsible business, has many different definitions. How it is understood and put into practice varies from one context or company to another. In general though, CSR is a concept focussed on encouraging ethical, sustainable business that considers the social, economic and environmental impact, and has a positive impact on the wider society.
How does The Priory Rooms demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility?
As a social enterprise and a Quaker led, not-for-profit business, corporate social responsibility is closely aligned with our values around fair, ethical and sustainable business that contributes positively to social change.
Our primary focus of course is to provide all customers who use our meeting and conference facilities with an exceptional service. This in turn supports them in their work. Our flexible meeting spaces, varied catering options and competitive prices, see us taking bookings from all sectors, including a significant proportion from those in the government, public, health and charity sectors.
We put our profits to good use in various ways. Firstly, we reinvest an amount each year into maintaining and developing our building and facilities. Over recent years investments have resulted in upgrades to our lighting, seating and technology, ensuring the venue is fully equipped and comfortable for conferences and events. This summer we plan to have a new kitchen fitted, to support efficiency of our hospitality service. The main part of our building was constructed in the 1930s as Quaker Meeting House and so we ensure that renovations are sensitively undertaken to preserve the historic architecture of the building.
Secondly, we donate a large proportion of our profits to Central England Quakers which helps to support their community projects. Here in the West Midlands the projects we support include the Birmingham Peace Hub and the Northfield Ecocentre. The Quakers also support projects abroad, such as the Hope Project in Uganda, focusing on sharing peace building skills.
The Priory Rooms supports independent charities too, such as Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Macmillan Cancer Support, by engaging in fundraising activities through the year. This has involved staff organising in-house cake sales and joining in street collections in the city centre. These events enable our staff and customers to support the work of local and national charities, as well as typically providing a delicious array of impressive cakes to sample!
Another way we exercise corporate social responsibility at The Priory Rooms is through our commitment to operating in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. We have a number of initiatives in place to achieve this including serving Fairtrade teas and coffees, providing meeting room water in recycled glass bottles, and supporting the Meat Free Monday campaign by offering an entirely vegetarian menu on Mondays. We minimise waste and recycle as much as possible, this includes harvesting rain water from the roof to flush a proportion of the ladies toilets. We’ve invested in various upgrades to the facilities too, such as improvements to the buildings insulation and installing energy efficient LED lighting, all to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint.
How could your business increase its’ CSR initiatives?
Here at the Priory Rooms our CSR efforts focus on charitable giving, reinvestment in our building and environmental initiatives. How CRS is implemented though will vary depending on the context and company. The good thing is there are all sorts of activities a business can do and everyone in the organisation can get involved to some degree.
Your business could look at working in partnership with local community projects. Instead of, or in addition to, giving a proportion of profits to charity, your company could allow your staff time away from their desk to volunteer for a not-for-profit organisation. You could choose to make socially responsibility investments or invest in your employees to maintain a sustainable workforce. It may be a social or environmental goal is at the heart of your work already, as such your focus might be around minimising any negative impact on the planet as you go about your work. There’s lots companies can do on a variety of scales. Key to successful CSR initiatives seems to be getting the buy in and involvement from employees, and communicating CSR efforts and outcomes with all stakeholders.
This month is a great time to think about CSR as Corporate Social Responsibility Share Day will be taking place on Friday 21st April. This 24-hour, global Twitter campaign led by the organisation Positive Impact will share stories of people and businesses who are making a positive impact on sustainability around the world. The day provides an opportunity to share best practice and get ideas and inspiration from others. You can read and contribute to the online conversation at https://twitter.com/CSRshareDay using the hastag #CSRShareDay
We are always keen to improve on our environmental and social initiatives, so if you have any CSR success stories or ideas you’d like to share please tweet us @theprioryroomspermalink to this article
Everything ran really smoothly and your help and support in the lead-up to the conference and on the day was superb. The staff really care about your event which makes the day stress-free and enjoyable.
Sarah Richards, The British Association of Social Workers