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Corporate social responsibility

Is CSR worth your time? The CSR experience at Bibby Financial Services

By Tomasz Kukulski, president of the board, Bibby Financial Services
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the idea that businesses should not only make a profit, but also take care of the world around them. It’s an investment that looks after the best interest of both the firm and its surrounding environment. A long-term strategy designed to improve sustainability, stakeholder wellbeing and corporate reputation. This article will identify the two types of CSR, showcase their benefits, and give a real-life example of the CSR initiatives at Bibby Financial Services.

Corporate social responsibility is both internal and external

When hearing the words ‘corporate social responsibility’, most people think about factories polluting the environment or plastic packaging littering our seas.  However, CSR is not only about the environment or sustainability – it’s also about the people inside an organisation. We therefore categorise CSR into internal and external initiatives. Companies can do good not only by considering the environment, but also by looking inside and asking, “how can we improve the wellbeing of our people?”. It’s important to make that distinction, because it means every firm can get involved in CSR, no matter the size or industry.

The benefits of CSR initiatives

Corporate social responsibility leads to a synergy between the wellbeing of a business and its surrounding environment. For example, a firm can use R&D to develop an eco-friendly filtration system, which allows it to save money previously spent on buying carbon credits. It can then sell that technology to other companies to make a profit and further reduce air pollution. There’re many benefits to implementing CSR into a business’ strategy, such as:

  • Attracting and retaining high-quality staff – there’re many ways to motivate staff and a high salary is not always the best way to do it. Some people need more than just money – they want to work for companies that have similar values and give them the opportunity to do something good. A company with a strong, ethical reputation will have an easier time attracting talent, as it offers more than just financial rewards. It provides its people with meaningful work and the chance to make a difference. Companies who engage in CSR enjoy a higher staff retention rate, which drastically reduces recruitment and training costs. There’s also an increase in staff engagement, which leading to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and less safety incidents.
  • Better brand recognition and reputation – CSR initiatives generate positive press coverage, which in turn improves brand recognition and reputation. Linking your brand to sustainability, staff wellbeing or positive change increases the number of associations tied to your brand, which in turn increases its recognition and memorability.
  • Increased sales and customer loyalty – being socially responsible is becoming increasingly more important as customers evolve into prosumers. Prosumers research the companies they buy from and choose the ones who act ethically or in line with their own values. They’re a very loyal group of consumers, who stick to a brand once they like it, often forming communities around them. Due to the rise of prosumerism, CSR is starting to become a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
  • Operational costs savings – ethical and pro-social behaviour reduces costs in multiple ways. It means paying fewer financial penalties for breaking the law, not spending money on carbon credits and lower staff turnover costs. While some CSR initiatives may require a large upfront investment, they pay-off in the long run.
  • Easier access to capital – investors are more likely to back a reputable business, Better access to finance enables rapid growth and acts as a safety net in times of crisis.
  • Organisational growth – CSR initiatives, and the technological innovations created because of them, can act as avenues for future growth or additional revenue streams. Sustainable solutions or best-practices can be sold to other companies and provide extra workplaces for the people involved in developing them.

Implementing CSR – the Bibby Financial Services experience

In Bibby Financial Services, we take great pride in being a family-owned business, working closely with our local communities. Over the years we’ve carried out numerous internal and external CSR initiatives and we found them highly effective at improving our people’s wellbeing, creating closer relationships with local communities, strengthening our reputation, and improving productivity. While implementing CSR practices into corporate strategy is no easy task, we found that managerial buy-in makes the process a lot easier. It all starts with recruitment and onboarding – if you hire the right people, they’ll do the right things.

Here's some of the CSR initiatives that worked for us at Bibby Financial Services:

Volunteer hours – we encourage our people to engage in community service, offering them days off for volunteering with help organisations. This is an especially important initiative during the ongoing war.

Flexible work – we allow our employees to work remotely, and only ask them to come in once a week. They can also decide on their own schedule, choosing to start between 7-9AM and finish between 3-5PM.

Psychological support – we have a psychologist on weekly telephone duty, so our people can talk to him if they ever need any emotional support.

Professional development and training – our staff have access to a MOOC platform called B-Hive, where they can learn new skills and take part in courses for free.

Employee feedback surveys – we monitor our business culture and employee wellbeing through monthly surveys, using an online platform called Peakon.

Encouraging a healthy lifestyle – our people have access to the Make a Difference platform, which encourages them to say healthy by inspiring them with healthy food recipes, training exercises, fitness challenges and meditation sessions. We also organise special events like the Bibby Fair Pay Run, self-defence courses and days with a dietician.

Supporting local organisations – we financially support a local hockey team and we’re heavily involved with a local charity, where we co-organise events for the local community. We also organise charity fundraisers on a regular basis.

Days off – our staff get extra days off for Christmas, so they can prepare for the celebrations and spend that time with their family. We also give extra holidays to staff who’ve worked in Bibby for over 10 years.

Bibby Café – an initiative that started during the pandemic, designed to give employees the chance to still meet with their workmates for coffee, albeit remotely. Weekly online sessions led by Bibby’s managing director, where people can chat, express their concerns, or share their recent achievements.

Does CSR make a real difference?

We believe it does. Our initiatives have made a real impact on our people and local communities - in the past year we’ve been awarded the Trustworthy Brand 2021 title by MyCompany Poland, and Family Friendly Business 2020/21 awarded by the Humanites Institute. We’re also celebrating our 20th anniversary and have started a new podcasting project called The Business of Tomorrow, where we talk about CSR, future technologies, and running a family business. Bibby’s experience with CSR has been terrific, and we can’t wait for our future projects.

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