Family Friendly Enterprise

Family Friendly Enterprise:

Slovenia leads the way

Article by Wayne Visser

An International Sustainable Business column for The Guardian

Only 14% of employees in the UK (compared with a 21% global average) are fully engaged in their work and one in four (24%) are not satisfied with their job, according to a Towers Watson global workforce survey. Furthermore, nearly one in three (30%) do not feel engaged by their employer.

This is no trivial matter. Gallup estimates the cost of employee disengagement to the UK economy to be somewhere between £59.4bn and £64.7bn. Part of this cost is sickness-related absence; engaged employees in the UK take an average of 2.7 sick days per year, compared with 6.2 for those who could be described as disengaged.

The Centre for Mental Health estimates that employers loose around £8.4bn a year this way. However, nearly double this amount (£15.1bn a year) is due to productivity loss from people not feeling well in the workplace, so-called presenteeism.

Turn the trend around, however, and there are big upsides to having an engaged workforce. Research by the Corporate Leadership Council suggests that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organisation. According to the IES/Work Foundation, if companies increased investment in workplace engagement by 10%, they would increase profits by £1,500 per employee per year. That is because engaged employees generate 43% more revenue than disengaged ones and highly engaged organisations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87% and improve performance by 20%.

Given these statistics, it is hardly surprising that issues of wellbeing in the workplace are on the rise. In the UK, Business in the Community (BITC) promotes this agenda through their Workwell campaign, while globally the Great Place to Work Institute partners with more than 5,500 organisations with around 10 million employees to conduct the largest annual set of workplace culture studies in the world.

According to their research, employees believe they work for great organisations when they trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.

Great Place to Work’s annual surveys and awards give kudos and some PR-driven reputational payback for companies that are investing in workplace wellbeing. For example, Microsoft topped the leader board in 2011 for the best multinational to work for globally, as well as in Europe.

“For us that means greater creativity, greater productivity and, ultimately, continued success as a market leader,” says Michel Van der Bel, managing director for Microsoft UK says. Kimberly Clark scored top in Latin America and the Admiral Group leads in the UK. Importantly, Great Place to Work also recognises large national companies and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Awards are one way to recognise best practice. Another is certification of management systems, which tends to encourage greater embedding of the values in the organisation. One place where this is happening is Slovenia, where the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, in partnership with auditing firm The Ekvilib Institute, has run a family friendly enterprise certification scheme since 2007 …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/article_slovenia_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Family Friendly Enterprise (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-quest-for-sustainable-business”]Link[/button] The Quest for Sustainable Business (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Family Friendly Enterprise: Slovenia Leads the Way, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 1 October. First appeared in The Guardian.

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Practising Social Responsibility Without the CSR Label

Practising social responsibility without the CSR label

Article by Wayne Visser

An International Sustainable Business column for The Guardian

Mexico’s small and medium sized enterprises account for more than 99% of the four million businesses in the country, generate 52% of GDP and provide 72% of employment. The government’s business accelerator programme supports these SMEs by funding institutions that can help the sector grow by improving competitiveness, business opportunities and market scalability.

One such business accelerator is the IDEARSE Center at Anahuac University in Mexico City. The centre’s business model for SME acceleration is built around CSR, incorporating environmental impacts, human rights, self-regulation, social impacts and community involvement and stakeholder engagement.

More remarkable still is that, by working with the supply chains of big brands such as Sony, Coca-Cola and Cemex and having trained more than 150 SMEs since 2007, the SMEs achieved sales growth of between 5% and 37% and jobs growth of between 5% and 19%. At the same time SME performance across all six CSR areas has improved between 23% and 46%. These numbers debunk several popular myths, most notably that CSR is not relevant, too expensive or not incentivised for SMEs. Let’s look more closely at these myths.

Is CSR relevant for SMEs?

The issue of relevance largely hinges on whether you adopt a very literal and narrow interpretation of CSR. Laura Spence, director of the Royal Holloway, University of London’s Centre for Research into Sustainability, says that the terminology of CSR is both inaccurate (as small firms are unlikely to be corporations) and off-putting jargon for SMEs.

“Also since CSR practice is often associated with reporting, SMEs don’t stand a chance. They are unlikely to have external financial reports, let alone the time resources or need to produce a glossy CSR report,” says Spence.

So first, we need to get the labels and definitions right. The IDEARSE centre, for example, describes CSR as “a permanent and continuous commitment, voluntarily adopted by the business, to respond to the economic, social and environmental impacts of its activities, and to guarantee the sustainable and human development to all its stakeholders.” No doubt, it helps that CSR in Spanish (responsabilidad social empresarial or RSE) translates more accurately as socially responsible ‘enterprise’.

Explicit or implicit CSR?

The second issue – whether CSR is too costly – is a real concern, but once again, it depends what we mean by CSR. Work by CSR academics Dirk Matten and Jeremy Moon distinguish between explicit and implicit CSR. Explicit CSR refers to many of the formalised practices we associate with large corporates, such as CSR codes, standards, managers, systems, reports and audits. These are resource intensive and mostly not feasible for SMEs …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/article_mexico_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Practising Social Responsibility Without the CSR Label (article)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-quest-for-sustainable-business”]Link[/button] The Quest for Sustainable Business (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this article

Visser, W. (2012) Practising Social Responsibility Without the CSR Label, The Guardian, 12 September 2012.

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Nature vs. Nurture

Nature vs. Nurture:

Are Social Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 7 of 13 in the Age of Responsibility Blog Series for 3BL Media.

What do Taddy Blecher, Anurag Gupta, Wang Chuan-Fu and all of the other social entrepreneurs have in common? Is this a special breed of human being? Are social entrepreneurs born or can they be made? In the academic literature, there is an interesting thread of research that is around the concept of ‘champions’ in organisations, especially ‘environmental champions’. The idea draws on prior conceptions of the human resources champion in the 1970s and 1980s, before HR became institutionalised.

Academics define environmental champions as people who can attractively express a personal vision about environmental protection that is in tune with both industry’s needs and wider public concern and who convince and enable organisation members to turn environmental issues into successful corporate programs and innovations. Environmental champions have been showed to imbue a combination of characteristics, including being a catalyst, champion, sponsor, facilitator and demonstrator. Their skills include the ability to identify, package and sell environmental issues within their organisations.  Their effectiveness in engaging others rests heavily on expertise, top management support and a strong appreciation for the problems that every business unit or operations manager faces.

Research on champions is not confined purely to the environmental dimension of sustainability. Others have written about socially responsible change-agents, as well as managers’ individual discretion as a component of corporate social performance. British academic Christine Hemingway, for example, finds that CSR can be the result of championing by a few managers, based on their personal values and beliefs, despite the personal and professional risks this may entail. Individual managers are also often mediators in corporate philanthropy and stakeholder influence. Hence, the notion of CSR champions has emerged as an important concept, which I will return to this in the final blog on individual change agents.

Bill Drayton, who has been involved in selecting and tracking the progress of the 2,700 Ashoka Fellows, believes social entrepreneurs ‘focus everyday on the “how to” questions. How are they going to get from here to their ultimate goal? How are they going to deal with this opportunity or that barrier? How are the pieces going to fit together? They are engineers, not poets. … The entrepreneur’s job is not to take an idea and then implement it. That is what franchisees do. The entrepreneur is building something that is entirely new – by constantly creating and testing and recreating and then testing and recreating again’ …

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/blog_nature_nurture_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Nature vs Nurture (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Nature vs. Nurture: Are Social Entrepreneurs Born or Made, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 20 March 2012.

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