Paul Hargreaves is the chief executive of Cotswold Fayre a specialist fine food wholesaler.

“Corporate & Social Responsibility…”

Several years ago, large companies started talking about Corporate & Social Responsibility and smaller companies started talking about “Giving Something Back”

Both expressions frustrate me, and I think are now outdated and have become a bit of a cliché. There is, of course, nothing wrong with being responsible if you are a corporate, but too often the phrase CSR is added onto company mission statements as an after-thought, and seems to be a way of making them feel slightly less guilty about some of their less ethical practices.

It can be similar with 'Giving Something Back'. The expression alone implies that something has been taken in the first place! Maybe it has! Much better to ensure that your whole business is aligned to benefit the people of the planet and the planet itself than to just do things as they have always been done and then add on a bit at the end which is your social responsibility piece. This is the direction that many new businesses are lining up, and having the key mission of the business, products and methodology pointing towards social responsibility will mean that customers will take your business a lot more seriously. Much better than a business that has making profit its 95% and giving back at 5%.

As it happens I am in Kenya this week with four others linked to Cotswold Fayre’s supply chain. One of the best side effects of bringing others over here, which I have on several other of the nine other times I have been, is that they arrive back in the UK as changed people, much more likely to realise that making money, whilst an important part of any business, is not everything. More people running businesses like that in the UK will start to change the world for better.


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