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Online CSR roadmap: a structural approach to sustainability

Can we help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) set up a sound sustainability plan and encourage them to communicate about it? Is it possible to support companies from various industries and countries through the use of one tool? Absolutely yes! This is precisely what CBI developed in collaboration with Schuttelaar & Partners. Together, we created the Online CSR Roadmap.

CBI asked Schuttelaar & Partners to think about a tool that could be used by small and medium exporting organizations in developing countries to kick start their sustainability journey. CBI, whose work is to promote exports from developing countries to Europe, has a deep knowledge of various sectors in these countries through a wide network of local experts.

One of the roles of CBI is to build capacity to make sure exporting organizations can respond to demands of the European market, which is increasingly focused on sustainability. Given the large scope and complexities of sustainability, this was not an easy task, especially because it was very important for CBI that companies do not see sustainability as a compliance exercise. It had to be something that truly helped companies be more competitive.

Approach

The proposed solution is a user-friendly online tool which helps SMEs break down and understand sustainability issues such as human rights, environment, supply chain, among others, and allows companies to decide for themselves which topics are most relevant for them. Input of sector experts is incorporated in the tool in such way that SMEs are alerted when they do not select certain issues that tend to be problematic in their sector and/or country. Based on the selected topics, companies then make a self-assessment and convert it in a value proposition and an action plan. The company is guided by the tool to focus on topics in which it’s already doing well on and to consider with a risk management perspective those in which it is not.

In addition, CBI asked to help businesses communicate their sustainability journey to customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. By positioning themselves and communicating on certain sustainability issues companies are more visible for the European market players which are increasingly making decisions based on sustainability criteria.

Impact

After several thorough tests with almost 100 companies from different sectors in Peru, Colombia and Indonesia, the first reactions are very positive. The chosen approach proved to be universal and friendly enough to be used cross-sector, and because of sector expert input (including a Spanish version), SMEs were able to focus on what mattered to them.

The outcome is a printable one-pager, which is automatically populated with company-specific information to show unique selling points from a sustainability point of view, their objectives and illustrative case studies. As such, the Online CSR Roadmap helps companies establish concrete goals and action plans for sustainability, on which they can communicate regularly, and ultimately monitor progress.

Close cooperation leads to results

Looking back on the project, we are very proud of the result. Schuttelaar & Partners and CBI collaborated in this project as partners with a common focus and purpose. This good cooperation coupled with the commitment of both parties resulted in an advanced tool that was developed in six months. This was possible because of the early involvement of users and other stakeholders in the development process and to adopt an agile approach.

In 2017, our partnership will be based on further developing the Online CSR Roadmap to track and show progress over time. Stay tuned or contact us for any additional information about the Online CSR Roadmap.


For more information please contact Bram Ueffing