A recent CSR in construction workshop ran some very interesting discussions on just what CSR in construction is, what it could be and what it should be.
There emerged a number of salient, central themes:
CSR is not a badge, a new lick of paint or indeed something to do to generate responses in bids and PQQ’s to win work, but is something that goes deep into the organisation. It is the brand, image and reputation of the business, in many ways CSR is part of the DNA upon which the business will grow and flourish. Words such as heart or soul of the business become relevant.
CSR thinking will challenge existing business models. We have moved from a era of CSR being bad news, not seen as a business issue, to one of commitment to being responsible and doing good whilst running a business. The challenge businesses may now face is moving forward, how to make a construction business of out doing good, where social responsibility is the vision and core of the organisation. Combining triple line thinking in an integrated strategy and integrated reporting approach will give new perspectives on construction businesses.
CSR approaches cannot be simply imposed top down. Whilst needing strong leadership vision, CSR requires real engagement of all staff and indeed all those who work for the business through the supply chains. Empowering managers to lead on CSR and engaging people in sharing CSR good news stories will become essential.
CSR transparency means all aspects of construction are increasingly on open public display. We cannot put one message to clients in bids, another to staff and still allow conflicting, or perhaps irresponsible practices to exist. The recent Goldman Sachs is a timely reminder that we are in the Age of Damage as described David Jones in Who Cares Wins
The power and potential of social media is yet to be realised. On one hand it presents a phenomenal tool for sharing news, keeping informed and engaging with clients and partners, on the other hand it can be the Achilles heel, rapidly broadcasting irresponsible practices or intentions. Having an appropriately positive approach to Social Media with guidelines or codes of practice for use by staff in the business and on projects will increasingly become high priority.
Supporting built environment organisations on developing CSR strategies it is encouraging to see a real desire for strategic CSR approaches that go beyond the volunteering and sponsorship models. If you wish to engage in conversations on CSR in construction follow and join me on twitter @fairsnape, subscribe to or share this blog post, or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org