Last year, we decided as a company to set out a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy, as we believe that CSR and sustainability are just as important for SMEs as they are for larger organisations.
Since then, we have been working hard to create a roadmap that aligns with our values and vision and our goal to improve healthcare for all, tackling health inequalities wherever we find them.
Here, with the help of our CSR committee – Karina Malhotra (Managing Director), Lucy Mills (Head of Business Development & Operations), Fizza Hassan (Product Manager) and Abigail Smith (Business Analyst) – we explore our recent successes, our reasons behind putting a CSR plan in place and the growing importance of sustainability.
Acumentice recently became part of the Good Business Charter – can you talk us through this and what was needed to achieve it?
Abigail: The Good Business Charter (GBC) exists for all companies, charities and public sector organisations across all industries and sectors. It encourages responsible business practices by getting member companies to adhere to 10 key components. As part of the certification process, we had to demonstrate that we were aligned with these 10 components, which includes a dedication to paying fair wages, employee wellbeing, environmental responsibility and employee representation.
At a time when people are caring more about who they work for, the GBC offers a straightforward accreditation which recognises organisations which prioritise and care for their employees, the environment, customers, and suppliers.
This is part of our wider CSR strategy – can you tell us a bit about CSR and why it’s so important?
Karina: Exactly what CSR means will differ slightly in each company, but it’s essentially a business model implemented by companies to try to operate to improve their effect on society and the environment. Even though we are small, we care about improving our impact on a regular basis.
Typically, CSR can be broken down into 4 pillars: environmental, ethical, philanthropic, and economic.
For Acumentice, it’s important for us to have a CSR plan in place as it’s reflective of our core company values, which we are very passionate about.
Isn’t it just something that big corporate firms need to be concerned with?
Karina: Traditionally, bigger corporates may have been more concerned with CSR due to their wider impact on society and the environment, but also because of better resources and capabilities to invest in CSR.
However, SME and startups will largely have the same reasons for wanting to engage. The current times indicate a shift in the attitude towards CSR, with more awareness, funding opportunities and government guidelines for a net zero roadmap. Therefore, there are now many more resources at hand for SMEs to implement an impactful CSR structure.
As an SME, we believe our journey to CSR is more personal. Our CSR journey is one we all feel connected to and understand the need for.
The question is: can a supply chain ever truly be ethical and sustainable? The answer to that may be disputed, but what is clear is the closer to we try to aim towards that, the higher the cost.
Therefore, you could argue we are more mindful, than bigger corporations, to what elements of the CSR plan we give our attention to. In part, this can be driven by the NHS (our clients’) demands, but also to ensure we really look at areas where we can add the most value back to the environment and society.
What does the CSR roadmap journey look like for Acumentice? And how did it all begin?
Fizza: As the founder of Acumentice, Karina very much defined the path and values in the early days. In fact, she had already completed some research into getting accredited before the NHS had come out with their net zero supplier roadmap.
As the company grew, the people hired shared the same core value of social responsibility and thus a CSR committee was set up.
The committee decided it wanted to achieve an accreditation and, after reviewing a number of these, we concluded that the BCorp accreditation reflected the long-term growth and plans for Acumentice. As BCorp can be a long process and often has waiting periods from submission, we wanted to keep the ball rolling with other activity.
We first did a workshop with the whole team to understand which Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, as defined by the United Nations) we align with. This was important as we wanted to centre our actions and plans around the SDGs that we were most passionate about. From those, we outlined four quick wins:
- Gaining GBC accreditation – we were already committed to working to improve within the 10 components of GBC.
- Finding a charity partner to work with.
- Communicating our journey and commitment to all stakeholders.
- Gaining ISO 14001 standard for environment.
Sustainability often comes under the remit of CSR – why is sustainability in the workplace increasingly important?
Abigail/Fizza/Lucy: Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for a plethora of reasons! One of which being that clients are actively looking for the right behaviours in the right places, such as net zero campaigns, working with charities and promoting a healthier lifestyle. Clients want to make sure that companies they work with believe in creating a better world for all of us.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of protecting the workforce and environment. With that in mind, the value of promoting healthy lifestyles and protection of the environment promotes a happier workforce and higher retention rate.
The most important part of sustainability in the workplace, however, is not only about clients and staff retention, but it’s about doing the right thing – which has always been our guiding principle as a company. Companies are becoming more conscious of their impact and are understanding their power within their own communities, wanting to take the right corrective measures to ensure that we all have access to a sustainable society.