The benefits of corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility means that you take into account how your company affects people, the environment, and society. For example, you ensure that your product causes minimal pollution and that your production chain is fair. By making your company more sustainable, you contribute to a liveable world. But you can also save money. And it gives you an edge over your competitors. We list the 5 biggest benefits of corporate social responsibility.

1. A boost for your image

More than 70% of consumers pay attention to sustainability when purchasing products and services, according to research by the Consumers' Association (in Dutch). So, it is important that you make socially responsible choices. Make sure you clearly communicate what you are doing about sustainability, for example on your website. This creates a green image, which makes you attractive to potential customers. Use relevant certificates and quality marks for your products or services. For example, place the corresponding logos on the packaging of your product or on your website. These symbols prove to your customer that the sustainability claims you make are true.

Note: do not pretend to be greener than you are.

This is called greenwashing. This misleads the consumer, which can seriously damage your image. For example, a wood-burning stove company recently received a warning from the Advertising Code Committee (RCC). They had run an advertorial in which the company praised wood-burning stoves as 'the eco-friendly way to heat your space'. According to the RCC, this is an environmental claim that the wood-burning stove company cannot live up to. As a result, the advertorial turned out to be misleading for the consumer and in violation of the Advertising Code. In addition to a reprimand from the RCC, you can also receive a fine from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument en Markt, in Dutch) for misleading sustainability claims.

2. Attracting employees

Doing business in a socially responsible manner will help you attract or keep staff. For example,  by optimising the air circulation in your office, you do not only save energy. This also has an impact on your employees. “Optimising your office can make your employees feel more comfortable. For example, pay attention to temperature. When it is too cold, people perform effectively. If it is too hot, they even perform 6% less effectively,” says Jan Kadijk. He works as a knowledge and innovation manager at the Dutch Green Building Council, an organisation committed to future-proof and sustainable buildings. “By ensuring good ventilation and a comfortable temperature, you ensure that staff suffer less from complaints such as headaches, fatigue, and stress. The result is more productivity (in Dutch) and less absenteeism.”

Also, sustainability is an important factor when recruiting new staff. Research (in Dutch) by Intermediair magazine shows that 75% of highly educated people find sustainability important when choosing a new job. So, make clear what your company does about sustainability when recruiting new staff. Of course, keep in mind that for many job seekers, salary is still the most important factor in their decision.

3. Money

In many cases, making your company more sustainable costs money. But those investments often lead to cost savings. For example, replacing all the lamps in your building with LED lighting. This is a significant investment, but you will quickly see it reflected in a lower energy bill.

You can also save money by looking at the productivity and absenteeism of your staff. Research by the Dutch Green Building Council (in Dutch) shows that optimising your business premises increases productivity and reduces absenteeism. “Of the total costs of an average company, about 1% goes to the energy bill, 9% to the rent, and the other 90% to personnel costs. If you save 10% on your energy bill, this will not save much on your total costs. But research shows that by greening your office you can reduce absenteeism by up to 10%. So that yields much more," says Jan Kadijk.

Subsidies for corporate social responsibility

If you do business in a socially responsible manner you can apply for subsidies and tax benefits (in Dutch). This way you can get financial help when you choose to get a heat pump or solar panels. You can also have the right to wage cost subsidy(in Dutch) for employing people with people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

4. Prepared for the future

The government is drawing up more laws and regulations to ensure that the Netherlands achieves its climate goals. Among other things, these laws and regulations force entrepreneurs to take energy-saving measures. “In 2050, we are only allowed to use sustainable energy in the Netherlands. And the total energy consumption must also be reduced by about 60% compared to the current consumption,” says Kadijk. “This is a major challenge for entrepreneurs. Take this into account now, so that you can take the necessary sustainability measures at a smart moment. For example, when you need to renovate your business premises.” Also, it is wise to reserve a percentage of your turnover for sustainability every year. That way you can spread your investments and you do not have to bear all the costs at once.

If your company is sustainable sooner than necessary by law, then you can use this in your marketing. This way you show your customers that sustainability is important to your company.

5. Advantage in tender processes

The government encourages sustainable business practices. In tendering processes, they select companies that meet certain sustainability requirements. For example, do you have a construction company? Then you must reuse building materials. If you do not, you will not be eligible for cooperation with the government. In addition to these kinds of hard requirements, the government also has a list of wishes for potential partners. If you meet the wishes on this list, you have an advantage over your competitors.