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How SMEs can do CSR

Apple keyboard, ivy and apple mouse on a desk

As a small or medium-sized business (SME), you might want to expand your client list by answering calls to submit government tenders or corporate bids for new projects. Just filling out the paperwork can be daunting — and time-consuming. These days, call-outs are generally online and tend to follow a standard pro forma, information about your company that you can have prepared in advance. It might be easy to put together details about your work, your team, your supply chain, but what about your policies? You should have your terms and conditions, health and safety, ethical statements, equity and diversity, quality assurance, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) statements at your fingertips and ready to roll.

Whoa! At this point I see you back away from your laptop and forget about that tender submission. Forget about that new revenue stream — it's just too hard.

But if you spend just 15 minutes a day for the next week (that's just a coffee break a day), I guarantee you will be inspired to start some simple statements that can become your policy collection. Then, when that dream project comes along, your submission won't take as long to complete and you can focus your time on answering the main questions rather than drowning in business policies. And think about your company's unique offering and what you can commit to that fits your brand values. For example, Modibodi's founder, Kristy Chong, offers her staff menstrual, menopause and miscarriage leave. If you design and make handmade baby clothes, then you should have a superb maternity leave policy.

Here are a few policies you can start with to see if they are the right fit for you:

1. Capability statement: Succinctly describe what your business does, what it achieves, how it measures its success and what make you stand out from your competitors. You can also include your vision and values, your brand commitment, and a headline statement for government and non-government clients about how you will help them meet their business needs.

2. Terms and conditions for clients: This could include your invoicing and payment plans or part payments you require. It should also cover how to handle complaints and the steps you take to resolve any reported issues.

3. Terms and conditions for employees and freelancers: This includes your expectations for employees and freelance contractors around data privacy, intellectual property, file security, email and social media use, and representing your company at external events. It could cover your commitment to diversity in the workplace and your stance on anti-bullying and anti-discrimination.

4. Eco-pledge: Include how you reduce, recycle and reuse.

5. Community pledge: How do you give back to your local business and social communities?

6. Industry support commitment: How do you support growth in your industry?

7. Clean supply chain: Do you check your suppliers' track record on safety, HR and employment, diversity, anti-slavery, environment and sustainability?

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to start putting pen to paper today. Having clearly set out and transparent policies are good for your customers and good for business.


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