The idea of corporate social responsibility has been adopted by Polish businesses a few years ago. This American concept seems to grow in strength quite fast in our country. Yet, its principles are often misunderstood by business people. It often happens that CSR policies are implemented off and on, as required by individual PR campaigns. What does CSR really mean? And which activities are worth the trouble for both, small and large enterprises as part of this development strategy? These questions will be answered by Michał Świgost, Head of Marketing and Sales at Qubus Hotel chain.
What does corporate social responsibility really mean?
It is difficult to give a single definition of this concept. Generally it can be said that social responsibility of businesses shall be understood as awareness of their influence on society and environment and taking responsibility for such influence. It is not only about activities which are respectful of the law, environment or social and ethical principles adopted in a given country or social group, but also about undertaking activities aimed at maximizing creation of shared values in a society. The concept of socially responsible business also involves identifying, preventing and reducing possibly negative consequences of the operation in the market. CSR is not limited only to large corporations. It can be also adopted by small businesses. Everything depends on tools and means used in connection with particular needs, preferences or size of the enterprise.
Following the letter of the law
It simply means running the business in accordance with provisions of the law as well as certain professional and internal standards developed by a given enterprise. The basic principle is to respect human rights in relation to all employees, partners and competitors. It is inextricably linked with the principles of ethical business-making, including such examples as keeping one's promises and fulfilling one's obligations to business partners and maintaining good relations with them. In its competition policy any socially responsible business should not fall back to unfair competition in its search for customers. Such practices include copying of products, undermining good reputation of a business name, unfair negotiations or resorting to negative campaigning.
Regular and fair wages and observance of employees' rights
It seems to be obvious. Regrettably, many employers are still ignorant of this simple truth. Regular and fair wages make employees feel safe which in turn has positive influence on their work output. Key elements are: level of money equivalent received in return for one's work and work based on employment contract. In addition to standard wages Qubus Hotel chain offers its own modern incentive scheme. Our own rating system provides our staff with clear guidelines showing the most important actions and expected results. Our approach in this area is also crucial for uniform vision of growth adopted by our chain.
Friendly HR policy in practice
The above elements are fundamental for proper operation of any business. Yet, efficient market expansion requires investments in friendly HR policy from any modern enterprise. After all, the enterprise is based on members of the staff and their commitment, experience and qualifications result in its positive corporate image and stimulate consumer confidence. Being open to needs of the staff simply pays. Such openness should result in opportunities to build one's career path, implementation of training systems that facilitate professional development or guarantees of fringe benefits. Qubus Hotel chain has introduced its own programmes such as: "Pencil Case" (supplementary financing of school starter kits) or "Top Student" (a competition for studying employees). In addition to this we offer supplementary financing of health care which is very popular with our employees. Qubus Hotel can also boast a variety of tools that facilitate internal company communication. They include news-sheets and newsletters for employees, team-building and project meetings, messages and trainings available via our e-learning platform or the use of intranet in our everyday work.
Caring for natural environment / minimizing negative environmental impact
In order to care for natural environment in practice, you must be aware of the negative impact made by your enterprise. It is especially important in the case of mining industry, where the impact on natural environment is substantial. In hotel industry it is a good idea to focus on regular consumption of electricity and water. Our chain additionally checks out concentration of cleaning agents and encourages its Guests to save drinking water with the use of information leaflets, etc. We also gradually replace lighting systems with energy-saving solutions in all our hotels.
Involvement in social / community life
This is the element that is most often used in PR campaigns. Regrettably, such actions are often single events instead of being elements of some broader strategy. Qubus Hotel chain exercises a diversified approach. During last 2 years we have introduced many amenities for children which resulted in the "Family-Friendly Hotel" certification for 6 our hotels and 2 more applying for it this year. In addition to this, individual hotels organized trainings for children from local nursery and primary schools. Chef of Qubus Hotel Legnica showed children how to bake a pizza. Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała organized its "Little Hotelier" workshops attended by over 300 children from local nursery schools. The children visited our hotel and learned about work in various hotel departments. It's been over a year since we've been supporting 2 children as part of "Academy of the Future" campaign. Children from 2 branches of the Academy could participate in hotel industry workshops. This is how we try to invest in hotel education of children hoping that some of them will decide to work in this industry. We can also say that another result of our social involvement is our opinion of a good and reliable employer.
Responsibility for the supply chain / quality of services
Ignoring the complexities of a supply chain may result in considerable business risk for any enterprise. Our consumers are getting more and more demanding. Not only they care about the quality of services they buy, but also about our awareness of activities taken up in the course of the entire life cycle of a product. This is why Qubus Hotel chain purchases services only from verified suppliers. Our Gastronomy Department organizes trainings and external audits on awareness of life cycle of a product, occupational health and safety as well as ISO and HCCP certification systems. We also pay a lot of care to supporting the local business. If local partners can meet our requirements for high quality of a product and its production process, we are more than happy to use their services and promote smaller, regional businesses and their products.