CSR encompasses social, ecological and economic aspects. It is no longer sufficient for companies to offer good products and services and focus on stakeholder value, they also bear a great responsibility for the state of the environment and society by shaping their relationships with the ecological and social environment and their internal processes.
The demands on companies are great. In order to make the future worth living, the core of their business models must be designed in a socially responsible way. Last but not least, digitalisation and climate protection are relentless drivers for the emergence of a new understanding of responsible entrepreneurship. Start-up companies have the opportunity to build in corporate responsibility from the very beginning and thus spare themselves costly, sometimes painful restructuring and transformation processes later on.
Socially responsible companies not only act for the benefit of others, but are also more successful economically. By anchoring its CSR commitment in its overall strategy, CSR as a success factor encompasses all areas of a company.
“CSR for Start-Ups” by SUM
SUM is an initiative of seven European advisory and educational organisations that address the need for appropriate guidance for start-ups on the path to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
In their early years, start-up entrepreneurs are primarily concerned with customer acquisition, fundraising and growth, product development and the like. Yet many have more resources at their disposal and are better able to pursue social responsibility strategies than they may initially realise. Moreover, it also pays off for the company’s success to take CSR into account from the very beginning. Once a company grows and cultures and processes become more rigid, it becomes more difficult to adopt initiatives that are initially perceived not to contribute directly to the profit. During their early stages, start-ups have a unique opportunity to ‘bag’ social responsibility and reap the long-term dividends that social responsibility practices can bring to a brand. To bring their priorities in the context of corporate responsibility into focus, start-ups could begin with an exploratory process to find out how their business directly affects the people, communities and environment around them, and how their structures, assets and actions can be made more socially and environmentally sustainable. In this respect, the SUM project sets the framework for European start-ups to live up to their social responsibility and in this way, not least, strengthens the sense of social justice and cohesion among EU citizens.