The most important role in marketing is that of the brand strategist. A good brand strategist can unify a company, influence a market, and architect and implement the brand experience that can directly affect the success of a company.
Richard Collins is the Founder, CEO, and Managing Director of CSR Accreditation, He’s an experienced brand strategist and creative whom have pursued a passion for helping companies in the public, private and third sector promote their brand reputation to create differentiation and improved audience engagement.
Collins established CSR Accreditation in 2018 and turns to be one of the leading UK-based company delivering a global standard for social responsibility, improving the world for future generations, and reducing the negative impact on the environment by building a better and cohesive society.
Collins is the Vice-President for the Bucks Chamber of Commerce Council, a member of the Society of Leadership Fellows, St George’s House, Windsor Castle, and a Trustee for Heart of Bucks – Community Foundation.
In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, the CEO speaks about how CSR Accreditation has provided the perfect opportunity for positive stories and testimonies. How he helped organisations to promote their CSR and sustainability efforts as an integral part of their brand personality and reputations.
Below are excerpt:
What motivated you to start the CSR Accreditation?
I was involved with the Green Organisation from early on when a project I was involved in won a Green Apple award.
I was so impressed with what they were doing I have stayed involved until this very day. As a result we established the International CSR Excellence Awards. This led to a large regional business membership group to look at establishing an accreditation for social responsibility. I needed a new definition that was less fluffy at the edges and one that applied to all organisations across all sectors no matter how small or large. Social responsibility should be for everyone.
So I developed a standard that is supported by the CSR four pillars of environment, workplace, community and philanthropy. This provides a structure that will help an organisation plan and act responsibly. A standard that states for Social Responsibility should be for every organisation.
The ‘C’ needs to be more inclusive, ‘Corporate’ excludes a large number of stakeholders, specifically the third and public sectors, sole traders and small SME’s. For this reason we have defined the C to be more inclusive. To include companies, communities, charities, to allow for collaboration, we can then surround these meanings with a Caring, Cohesive approach Common to the wider Collective.
Social Responsibility allows you to enrich the quality of lives for all by investing in social value as an essential part of an organisations culture. This provides purpose and impact and will ensure a sustainable and profitable business. It will help to build a better world for future generations by improving the environment and ensuring a cohesive community to live and work in.
How important is CSR, ESG and SDGs to us and how do we create the right culture and mindset to drive change?
There is now no doubt about the impact of CSR on profitability for an organisation. Social responsibility is a new profit centre. The future shape of business will be measured in both social and financial value.
The clear drivers for CSR can be seen in a return on social investment (ROSI) and a social return on investment (SROI). CSR now drives an organisations brand and business reputation and is a powerful emotional investment that has a positive impact on all stakeholders. It makes us feel good because it is about something good. It is also a way to add value and give greater purpose to our time beyond the job role and title. This is about staff engagement, improved productivity and mental health and wellbeing. Employees want to feel proud of the organisation they work for.
Being a responsible, sustainable business makes it easier to recruit new employees. There appears to be a change in mindset from those seeking employment for the first time. This may be about underpinning value for business in engaging with the next generation from a CSR perspective. In other words, an organisation that delivers social value. This is about lining up your values with those of the next generation, and there is the measurable operational costs savings and better financial performance by reducing resource use, waste and emissions, you can help the environment and save money too.
It also easier access to capital. Investors who are pouring money into companies want to know that their funds are being used properly. Not only does this mean that corporations must have sound business plans and budgets, but it also means that they should have a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Investors care about corporate social responsibility and so should companies.
According to the London Stock Exchange Investors now routinely analyses information on CSR (ESG) performance to gain a better understanding of companies’ future prospects. 60% of assets managed for EU investors incorporate sustainable investment strategies. It is now common place to be scored on your CSR performance when tendering for both public and private projects. Already one out of three local authorities insist on evidenced CSR as part of the tendering process.
CSR is about the future: discovering your sustainable and profitable potential and achieving it
Customers want to trust organisations they engage with. Employees want to work for values-driven employers and investors want to know that a company is addressing its ethical responsibility. But it is also about delivering social value, and investment in something much bigger than the organisation. It will help with clarity about want you want to get out of business and from your life. It becomes a road map for delivering greater purpose and value to all stakeholders.
So, ask yourself what is the cost of not being socially responsible? Increased absenteeism, retraining, poor engagement, lost social capital, losing tenders, poor reputation, dropped from the supply chain, not attracting new talent and a high risk investment. Can you afford not to be a socially responsible organisation? NO!
What is CSR Accreditation?
The CSR Accreditation provides independent recognition of organisations socially responsible activities.
A CSR Accreditation provides a structure that can help an organisation plan and act responsibly – Social Responsibility – driving forward successful businesses. The CSR Accreditation is an effective way to benchmark what you are already doing with regard to social responsibility. It is a process in which you collate measure and report on your organisation’s socially responsible activities.
This is a fully holistic and inclusive approach that allows for all organisations – private, public and third sector and is for all sizes from sole traders to large corporations. It employs a white paper approach that promotes an organisation’s individuality. The application process provides a simple and straightforward template where you record activity against the Social Responsibility ‘Four Pillars’ of environment, workplace, community and philanthropy. Each Social Responsibility Pillar is designed to help you impact report on areas such as energy performance, recycling, staff engagement, health and well-being, community engagement and support for local and national charities.
The Accreditation application is independently assessed and depends on supporting evidence to back up CSR activity outcome and impacts.
Why get CSR Accreditation?
CSR Accreditation is a powerful way to communicate these positive actions to all stakeholders. Achieving CSR Accreditation is a visible testimony of excellence in Social Responsibility.
- The accreditation helps you integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into your business operations and strategy.
- An accreditation will also provide you with a roadmap for planning future activity.
- A CSR Accreditation can be used to:
- Deliver the information required for ESG (Environmental Social Governance) reporting
- Identify the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which you may wish to support.
- Write a Social Value policy
- Reduce negative impact on climate change – Race to Zero
- Produce a Social Impact Report.
- Enrich, enable and engage employees, shareholders and stakeholders.
When you have achieved a bronze, silver or gold accreditation you can use the mark to show all audiences that you have been independently recognised and validated for your CSR commitments.
CSR Accreditation Arabia website and portal was recently launched for Middle East and North Africa countries and what is motivation and the feedback?
We have seen a significant uptake in interest in CSR in the region. We have partners in the Gulf States and Egypt and can see subjects like ESG and the United Nations SDG’s becoming headline topics.
The concept of CSR is truly a global phenomenon especially with regard to supply chain, environment and human rights. CSR Arabia has come at a perfect time to allow organisations of all sizes engage in a meaningful way with this topic.
The feedback has been overwhelming with our regional partners and their audiences. It allows organisations to share impact and evidence in Arabic to support their applications and most importantly provides access to independent validation.
What advice would you give the younger ones and prospective students?
To be honest we should be taking advise from the younger generation. There appears to be a change in mindset from those seeking employment for the first time. This may be about underpinning value for business in engaging with the next generation from a CSR perspective.
Bucks New University indicated that Over 70% of students actively look for an organisations CSR policy before accepting a job offer or applying for a job.
Furthermore, that their careers platform showed for the first time that the “average” student would rather explore work in the public or charitable sector rather than banking or law.
In other words, an organisation that delivers social value. This is about lining up your values with those of the next generation.
I would advise these younger generations to show that they are the true enablers for delivering meaningful socially responsible and sustainable initiatives. To find out how they can inspire and influence an organisation to do good.
To show that the future shape or business will be measured in social value as well as financial value. That their generation will be making purchasing, recruitment and loyalty decisions based on the moral and ethical behaviour of the organisations they engage with.
Thank you for sharing with African Development Magazine.
Thank you too. I appreciate so much.