Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is widely known as any corporate action which positively affects society in some way shape or form.

CSR is a hot topic right now due to viral social movements such as the #MeToo movement. Because of this, demand for businesses to incorporate CSR schemes into their strategy has risen alongside heightened customer demands. The modern customer is concerned that companies need to be increasingly transparent and “more involved in addressing social, environmental and cultural issues.”

The high cost associated with CSR processes is counteracted by the concept of a ‘zero bill business’ which uses energy-efficient methods to protect the environment and reduce their operational costs. Introducing solar panels to your business promotes environmental benefits and reduced costs to a business in the long term. This solution allows small enterprises to assume corporate social responsibility and cut their costs at the same time.

Why Corporate Social Responsibility Is Trending

As businesses become more aware of their influence on society, CSR is trending and becoming permanently integrated into the fabric of business MBA programmes for the next generation of leaders to consider. The influence that CSR programmes have is life-changing for a variety of different causes. In business today, many leaders have dismissed what the New York Times named a myopic view that businesses have a duty to shareholders alone. Instead, businesses are now considering the communities that they affect and what they can do to make a difference.

The introduction of legislation that covers workers rights, such as the UK’s Modern Slavery Act in 2015, has encouraged companies to further consider their societal impact in both internal and external procedures.

Recent reports highlight that even though multinational corporations are credited most for their CSR schemes, small businesses are also highly motivated to do their part for the world. Astonishingly, over a third of small businesses said they are not driven by profit, although money is undeniably important in business. With this said, the need for a cost-sensitive solution to CSR that doesn’t break the bank would go down well with the six million SMEs across the country.

Cost-Sensitive CSR Solutions

Adopting energy efficient methods will eventually be a money-maker for businesses that also helps the greater good of the earth. In terms of CSR, the environment is becoming increasingly important to focus on as the effects of climate change are felt, motivating us to build a carbon economy.

The use of renewable energy, which now accounts for 30% of all electricity generated in the UK, is encouraged as a cost protective practice. Energy Innovation Manager at Bioregional Dr. Matt Wood explains, “a company can mitigate against future electricity price rises by signing long-term contracts with generators.” Purchasing energy from a micro-grid is just one of the many options enabling businesses to be mindful of energy use.

The Feed in Tariff (FiT), which repays businesses for surplus energy exported to the grid, is a key motivator for businesses to go green as part of their CSR programme. The Economist conducted a survey on this topic that concluded — cost is a key motivator for those who produce their own energy.

Building a Zero-Bill Business in Practice

It’s possible that eco-friendly practices are now widespread due to the environmentally friendly activities of larger companies which small enterprises have then imitated by implementing their own. Some of the UK’s largest companies have pledged to spend millions of pounds to tackle climate change, such as HSBC who will invest £250 million into solar parks.

Amazon gained considerable exposure for their recent environmental endeavour to install solar panel systems across their British fulfilment centres. This included a deal for 100% renewable electricity to power its UK buildings. Operations Director Stefano Perego said it is “putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability, which is good for the environment, our business, our customers, and the communities in which we operate.”  

Small enterprises can copy larger competitors by investing in an eco roof or a solar paneled roof. These specialised solutions are a forward-thinking CSR action that can help generate payments from the energy you produce. In the UK, specialist roofing companies such as Ploughcroft have the expertise and partnerships in place to help with commercial projects that are protected by long-term guarantees.

Although many think that business efforts to “clean up their act around energy consumption” is belated, UK companies are increasingly backing clean energy and heading in the right direction to “improve green credentials, cut operational costs and contribute significantly to future-proofing their organisations.”

Chris Hopkins
Chris Hopkins is an accredited roofer and experienced entrepreneur who formed the professional roofing and renovations company, Ploughcroft. A customer focused business dedicated to delivering high-quality sustainable roofing with a personal touch. Ploughcroft’s extensive portfolio of residential and commercial customers includes conservatory and building roof replacements for schools, churches, stately homes, hotels and heritage sites.