Ethical Performance
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Small firms 'should get more credit' for their CSR work

July 2010

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often unfairly characterised as being uninterested in corporate responsibility, says a new CSR guide.

An updated edition of the A-Z of corporate social responsibility, published last month, says SMEs 'often have an undeserved poor reputation in relation to social responsibility'.

It claims this is due to 'general ignorance' of the restraints under which small companies operate - and because they are typically judged against benchmarks that apply more easily to larger firms.

It points out that SMEs are unlikely to have signed up to CSR agreements, organizations and standards, and researchers therefore find it difficult to measure their levels of activity. However, this does not mean they are doing nothing.

'In SMEs, personal motivation for taking socially responsible initiatives is more important than marketing, strategic or public relations approaches,' it says. 'They are unlikely to have the resources to focus on strategic gains or indeed deal with the issues from a marketing or PR perspective'.

SMEs are usually managed by individuals who also own them, so CSR programmes are generally on an 'ad hoc, personal basis' intended to suit localised 'social needs'.
The author of the entry on SMEs, Laura Spence, director of the UK-based Centre for Research into Sustainability, argues that much of the corporate responsibility at SME level is focused on employees, and is therefore sometimes less visible to wider society than high-profile charitable or volunteering projects.

Centre for Research into Sustainability | UK & NI Ireland | SMEs (Small and medium-sized companies)

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