CSR and the construction industry
Of every sector in the UK economy, construction is one that has made some of the biggest impact. Responsible for the physical development of our societies in terms of its housing and structures, construction has the potential to influence mental and physical wellbeing of the humans around it in both a positive and a negative way. So, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is especially important to construction sector businesses and has a big role to play in defining the future of the sector.
CSR is not new to the construction sector
In fact, as far back as 2005 there were already calls for the construction industry to be a pioneer in this area. At the Constructing Excellence (CE) conference in 2005, then Chief Executive Rodger Evan said “The construction industry makes an enormous impact not just for its clients, providing homes and businesses, but on the community within which the buildings are located. CSR is all about recognising the positive impact that construction can have in these communities and optimising the benefits for all stakeholders.” While CSR is voluntary, it also offers businesses the opportunity to promote more sustainable business and development practices and champion the future of the communities in which they operate.
What does CSR mean for construction businesses in practice?
The core of CSR is taking the idea of “doing things better” and applying it throughout the organisation. It means looking beyond the immediate needs of a construction business, such as the necessity of making profit or growing the client base, to take into account the impact that it has on people and the natural environment. There are social, environmental, human rights and ethics considerations at the heart of CSR but it will be different in practice for every business. The best way to approach working out CSR in relation to your own organisation is to review systems, processes and structures in place so that the business is taking responsibility for the impact that it has on society.
Where to look for guidance
The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) has been created by the construction industry in the UK to help improve the sector’s image and the Best Practice Hub is one of the resources that this initiative has made available. The Hub is designed to provide insights for UK construction sector businesses and clients into the best practices for the industry. This includes a Code of Considerate Practice, which is essentially a framework of minimum CSR expectations that provides useful guidance for those unsure where to start.
The CSR mindset
There are many benefits to making your construction business more tailored to CSR, including reducing the risks to the business and staff and improving the reputation that the organisation has. Socially responsible design and build practices have much to contribute to the sector itself, as well as to the stakeholders and communities that surround the projects that define the industry.