Knowledgeable CPAs Assist with Corporate Social Responsibility
Auditing and consulting services focused on improving your performance
These days, there is widespread pressure for businesses to demonstrate good citizenship through practices and initiatives, or what has become known as Corporate Social Responsibility CSR. CSR generally means taking a commonsense approach on various matters related to the environment, employee and labor relations, ethical business practices, and philanthropy. Because people from all walks of life are actively seeking companies with a socially conscious image, and avoiding those who do not, a sound approach to CSR is also good business. Are you looking to get started, or to improve your CSR profile? Our highly trained and experienced CPAs at Breon & Associates are ready to help. We perform CSR audits for companies that have programs in place, and we provide a full range of consulting services for any business looking to up their game.
Where is the demand for CSR coming from?
It’s long been part of the American ethos that a well-run business is a public service. However, we’ve also been plagued by scoundrels who cut corners, deceive the public, exploit their workers, unlawfully discriminate, cheat their competitors, and pollute the environment on a massive scale. Since the 1960s, there’s been a potent movement to rein in corporate bad actors. Much progress was made through legislation, but labor and consumer activism also applied market pressure, forcing business owners and Boards of Directors to respond. Now in the age of social media, corporate image is often more important to a company’s continued viability than the quality of its goods and services.
Pressure for CSR comes from virtually every business stakeholder:
- Investors who not only want a fair return for their money, but want their capital to go where it will do the most good
- Trade partners who want to enhance their image by partnering with strong CSR companies and to avoid tarnishing their image by working with weak firms
- Consumers who want to support ethical companies and even punish companies whose practices they object to
- Employees who want better working conditions, but also want to feel like their labor serves a greater purpose
With so many voices clamoring for CSR, it’s wise to get the best advice possible on how your company can adopt and implement a program.
What are the benefits of CSR?
One could argue that good corporate citizenship, like good private citizenship, is a noble end in and of itself. When people are friendly, honest, generous, and conscientious, they make the world a better place. The same can be said for organizations. Companies with a strong CSR program can expect a variety of benefits, including:
- Growth — Research shows that investors, trade partners and consumers are more likely to engage with a business who has a reputation for “doing the right thing”. A better image generally translates into better revenue and potential for expansion.
- Improved morale — Strong CSR companies are seen as better places to work, so employees are happier, more productive and more loyal. It also becomes easier to attract and retain good talent.
- Efficiency — For the reasons listed above, strong CSR businesses run more smoothly, getting greater productivity from workers and sustaining fewer losses due to waste and internal fraud. This means greater profitability.
- Reduced vulnerability — The dark side of social activism is the occasional shakedown of a vulnerable organization through specious lawsuits or threats of boycotts. By having a strong CSR program in place, you protect yourself from opportunists who might attempt to threaten your livelihood by attacking your company’s reputation.
Of course, your CSR program might also produce intangible benefits for you, while providing very tangible benefits to others whom you might never even meet.
Facets of a strong CSR program
As stated above, a CSR program can encompass many different areas. There are many CSR models to choose from depending on your organization and its needs. We believe a good guide is provided by The International Organization for Standardization, ISO. Founded in 1946, ISO is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that draws on knowledge and experience from around the globe to develop standards for business and technology. ISO standards have been instrumental in helping businesses become safer, cleaner and more efficient. ISO standards have made commerce fairer and have helped companies tackle global issues.
ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility covers seven distinct categories:
- Organizational governance — This includes the processes your business uses to make decisions and the steps you can take to achieve your goals. How do your processes, policies, protocols, and activities fit into your CSR narrative? You may talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?
- Human rights — Businesses must demonstrate respect and support for basic human rights within the company and externally.
- Labor and employment practices — The United States has no shortage of laws governing labor and employment, and all too often violations, such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and unpaid overtime, occur. Adopting best practices is imperative, but for robust CSR, you can go beyond what is mandated in areas such as health and safety of your workers, training and skill development.
- Environment — Adhering to environmental regulations is the least you can do. To do more, you can voluntarily take steps to manage your carbon footprint and emphasize sustainability. Simple, low-cost measure like installing motion detector lighting can help save the environment while also saving your company money.
- Fair operating practices — Businesses ought to have ethical codes of conduct that promote fairness when doing business with others, especially in developing nations where issues like low wages, poor working conditions, and public corruption perpetuate injustice.
- Consumer issues — Your customers want more than lip service about how you value them. They want to know your policies regarding fair marketing practices, customer service, support, data collection and protection, and consumer privacy.
- Community involvement and development — This category encompasses philanthropy, volunteerism, and tangible actions taken to elevate the local community, such as support for skill development programs and job creation within particular areas, especially those where economic hardship is evident. It’s also important to be prudent in choosing your community partners.
CSR programs are very flexible, so many aspects can be tailored to match your organization’s values and its mission. The program also needs to consider your size, industry, and the geography in which you operate. CSR is not just for larger organizations any longer, even the smallest organization can leverage CSR to set itself apart from its competition.
How Breon & Associates helps companies with CSR
At Breon & Associates, we believe that CSR programs represent commonsense measures your company can take to achieve mutually beneficially goals. We support organizations of all sizes and position on the CSR maturity curve. From small-to-medium-sized companies who are starting from scratch to large established entities that need a CSR audit, examination, or a review or those looking to improve their CSR practices.
Did you know that some businesses are starting to require a CSR audit before agreeing to enter a close partnership with an outside company? Getting your CSR program in order can help your company become safer, more efficient, and more profitable, as you continue to grow.
Contact Breon & Associates in Harrisburg for assistance with CSR program development
Breon & Associates assists organizations in Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania with programs for Corporate Social Responsibility. To learn more, contact Breon & Associates. With offices in Harrisburg and South Central PA, Breon & Associates provides business, accounting and tax services throughout Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina and Florida. Call us at 1-888-516-8476 or 717-273-8626, or contact one of our offices online to schedule an appointment.
415 Market Street, Suite #205
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Camp Hill Office:
3461 Market Street, Ste 101
Camp Hill, PA 17011
901 Dawn Avenue, Suite A
Ephrata, PA 17522
3 Park Plaza, Suite 207
Wyomissing, PA 19610