CSR Advantage: David, Goliath, or Tom, Dick & Harry?
The current small company CSR project I am working on brings many interesting points to light, but as my mind tosses around so many integral ideas, one overarching factor has caught my attention – size. Yes, size. How does a company’s size, maturity, and level of growth affect their CSR practices? Is it more or less difficult to leverage, finance, foster engagement or change within small companies? Who has the true advantage? Much is subjective, and the answer is not simple.
In lecture we have spent much time looking at big companies and highly recognizable brands, critiquing their use of CSR from green-washing to genuine intentions to do more, to do better. The potential impact of the Goliaths/Wal-Marts of the world is tremendous, but their organizational strategies, systems, and hierarchies are so highly ingrained what does it actually take to change their ways? There must be a fundamental cost-benefit analysis done, so is it fair to assume that their primary motivation for CSR can always be boiled down to the benefit of the bottom line?
I raise this point in order to juxtapose the position of the small business. ‘Goliath’ packs the impact punch simply by making small changes such as reduction of packing material or consolidation of distribution systems (and also has the means to fund the action), but the ‘Davids’ of the business world have the advantage regarding the malleability of their blooming venture, the ability to mold their ethos and structure their practices accordingly. The firm with which we are working is in fact small and dedicated to CSR regardless of profits… or is it? If a similar enterprise with similar values found themselves in a financial pinch, would there be the same ability to focus on conservation and the like? In fact, we have seen first hand how difficult these things can be when focus is put innately on output, stability and growth. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to fully invest in CSR, even when it’s the basis of your business.