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Tips for Small Business: Know When You’re Already Doing CSR

In a five-part series for small business, management researcher and NBS Topic Editor Laura Spence explains how small business owners can make their companies more environmentally and socially responsible. Starting small and growing in difficulty, these five steps help companies make small changes that create big impact in their staff, their community and their workplace.

So, you’re interested in corporate social responsibility (CSR) but don’t know where to start?

The good news is, you’re likely already doing it! Small businesses are often great examples of good “corporate citizens” – they just don’t know it. Review the list below and check off anything your company already does. These are examples of your company behaving “sustainably” or demonstrating CSR.


  • Pay a fair wage.

  • Hire youth, new immigrants or people with disabilities.

  • Take an interest in the interests of your employees – can you support charities they are engaged with?

  • Ensure fair holiday time is available and that everyone takes it.

  • Discourage a culture of presenteeism – it isn’t a crime to leave work on time.

  • Offer flexible work and job-share if at all possible.

  • Encourage training and personal development.


  • Deal honestly with customers.

  • Recommend customers where appropriate.

  • Keep communication lines open, even when not directly engaged in business.

  • Think about how customers can recycle or dispose of your product environmentally.

  • Engage with customers on sustainability issues.


  • Pay on time

  • Deal honestly with suppliers.

  • Buy “green” or “ethical” products whenever you can.

  • Engage with suppliers on sustainability issues


  • Donate to a local school or community organization

  • Encourage employees to volunteer on company time

  • Offer local school children to come on visits or offer work experience.

  • If you have a community based product, use Facebook or other social media to engage the community in naming new product lines and encourage feedback.

Stay tuned for the next post in this five-part series: Promote Your Good Works.

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  • Laura J. Spence

    Laura J. Spence is Professor of Business Ethics in the Department of Human Resource Management and Organisational Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London. Laura's research interests relate to a wide range of management studies issues including critical corporate social responsibility, small business social responsibility, supply chain sustainability and a critique of Creating Shared Value.

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