During the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve all been forced to endure something we never could have expected. But, unsurprisingly, there has been a large variety of responses. We’ve seen plenty of people doing good, as well as some less desirable, questionable behaviour from others. But we don’t want to pay lip service to the businesses who haven’t done enough. We want to celebrate those doing the best they can.
When this crisis is finally behind us, the reputations of those organisations who stood up and did their best are sure to stick. How a company approaches its CSR can make up to 40% of their reputation, highlighting the importance of how you’re being perceived by others.
Just because CSR, social value, and sustainability may have taken more of a backseat amidst more pressing priorities, it doesn’t mean you’re not still generating social value. By putting your staff on furlough and reducing their risk of contracting the virus, topping up their wages from the government’s 80%, or pivoting your services to support those most in need, you’re contributing to a healthy economy and a thriving populous – that’s an exceptional social good that shouldn’t be ignored.
Organisations to remember
When all is said and done, the businesses who prioritised public health over financial profits will be the ones remembered and valued. Some examples of well-known businesses who stepped up to the plate include Co-op, Timpson, Unilever, and H&M.
Co-op took on 5,000 extra employees to cope with demand, providing temporary employment to those who lost their jobs.
Timpson, meanwhile, has kept its 5,500 employees on full pay despite the shop closures.
And Unilever is contributing £89 million to fight the pandemic and are adapting manufacturing lines to produce sanitiser for use in institutions such as hospitals. They also pledged to pay their small- and medium-sized suppliers early to ease their cash flow.
Similarly, although they’ve had to pause new orders, H&M has pledged to pay for all incoming and already started orders.
It’s about more than just doing the right thing
There’s no denying that all these organisations have done the good – and right – thing. More than just helping out their staff, suppliers, or local community, these organisations have also inadvertently solidified their impact when it comes to CSR, social value, and sustainability.
For example, Co-op taking on extra employees, Timpson keeping their staff on full pay, and Unilever and H&M vowing to pay their suppliers can all be linked to SDGs number one, two, three, eight, and ten. They’re keeping people in work and out of poverty, allowing them to keep putting food on the table for their families, ensuring better health and well being by still offering opportunities to work and earn, and reducing inequalities in money and employment opportunities across their local communities.
Also, by donating money and sanitiser towards the COVID-19 fight, Unilever is specifically hitting goals three and ten – they’re helping secure better treatment for those affected, improving health, and ensuring the necessary care is available to all who might need it.
From these examples, it’s clear to see that you don’t need to do anything spectacular or ground-breaking during the COVID-19 pandemic to generate social value – most often, just doing the right thing and taking care of your people is what really counts.
Going one step further
By reporting on the social value they’ve generated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations like this – and yours – can continue to help others as well as improve your own reputation and economic future. As well as doing all these great things, businesses should be striving to capture this relevant data as evidence for any social value or CSR reports.
For example, Timpson could carry out a wellbeing valuation (check out our sustainability reporting guide for more information on this) as a way to assess the value they’re having by paying their staff. It would be a tangible way to measure the impact on their employees’ wellbeing which they can then use in reports to back up any social value or CSR claims. As a result, they could improve their reputation, entice new staff, and secure future investment.
Keeping with Timpson as an example, if they had completed a materiality assessment prior to COVID-19 that identified SDGs number one, two, three, eight, and ten as materially important to their stakeholders, then what they’ve done during this period of downtime perfectly links and is a positive reflection on their commitment to generating social value during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all know the reputation we’d like our organisation to leave behind post-COVID-19. But doing the right thing is only half the battle. It’s also important you can demonstrate exactly how you’re responding to the current conditions and what value this is adding to the lives of your staff, customers, and wider society.
We’re sure you’re already doing plenty of social good as a natural response to these tumultuous times; it’s about identifying exactly where this good is and finding the methods to extract relevant data and prove your impact. For example, by using software to measure employee wellbeing or the social value you’ve generated.
You can use the UN’s SDGs or another framework to compile this information into reports that track the tangible benefits of any support you’ve given throughout this time. It’s about showing your staff, customers, and investors exactly why your decisions have been for the greater good and how during a time like this you’ve stepped up to the plate.
Just because operations may have taken a temporary pause, it doesn’t mean you’re not still having an impact. This transition into the new normal is about getting back on track, operating more sustainably, and adopting a more social-value-driven focus. But there’s plenty of social good to be found in our actions over the past few months. While doing the right thing might have been easy enough, proving exactly how you’ve done the right thing is much more difficult – which is where technology can come in.
Impact can help your organisation easily measure and report on CSR data. We equate your social, environmental, and economic impact with real-world, tangible outcomes to help you visualise your progress and continue to keep doing better. If you want to find out more, or want advice on implementing a CSR strategy, get in touch on