Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a non-negotiable for Scottish businesses. A key component in driving competitiveness in the current landscape, companies are investing millions in establishing outreach programmes and initiatives.
Businesses now understand the role they can play in promoting diversity and supporting their communities.
According to CEIS, over half of Scottish business leaders agree that investing in community, social and environmental issues has strong business value and 89% believe that they are delivering on their social and environmental responsibilities.
Yet, the Scottish business landscape is far from being equal and diverse, especially in tech. Women only account for 23% of the workforce in digital technologies roles – 13% at board level – and 56% of Scottish companies have no female board members at all. Only 19% of workers in tech are from BAME backgrounds in the tech sector.
How can tech companies work towards building a better company, a more inclusive and impactful tech industry, and communities where people can thrive from the inside out?
Sowing the seeds
One way to tackle this issue for tech businesses is to focus on internal CSR first. Make it the core of your business, ensuring your culture is diverse and inclusive. Let the development of creative external CSR opportunities follow.
By sowing these values on the inside, your company will organically grow outward. This will enable you to take on external CSR projects that contribute to community and environmental projects that reflect the company you are.
At AND Digital, we believe that the investment of time and money into creating a diverse and inclusive company culture is a truly powerful thing. It has played a significant role in fueling our explosive growth over the past seven years.
Two major pillars of our CSR policies are ‘our workplace responsibility’ and ‘our wellness responsibility’. We believe that it is AND’s responsibility as a company to ensure that the workplace is fit to welcome any employee and provide them with a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment to thrive in.
Good CSR – Competitiveness, Sales and Returns
Having solid internal CSR processes in place makes good business sense. After all, our employees are our greatest assets. By nurturing our people, we encourage them to grow and prosper at their own speed, but within an environment with shared goals and responsibilities. The results have been amazing; our ‘ANDis’ grow together organically and create a better company as a result.
Psychological safety has been continually proven to bring numerous benefits to organisations; improving business agility, adaptability and fostering a better environment for increased diversity. By creating a culture where employees can freely exchange ideas, ask questions and feel valued and supported in their growth, tech companies can effectively equip themselves for long-term success.
The best way to achieve this is to invest in your employees. According to Forbes, performance-enhancing company cultures can increase revenues by up to 400%, showing how internal CSR is economically smart.
We’ve found that by putting our employees first, we have been able to scale to over 1,300 employees across the UK and Netherlands, since opening our doors in 2014 and earning £96 million in revenue annually.
Attracting diverse talent to Scotland
Every company can benefit from higher employee retention and attracting new talent. Developing internal CSR is the right strategy to adopt to make the Scottish tech sector more attractive.
By building a reputation of diversity and wellbeing within the sector, Scotland has the potential to become a major player in the tech world, attracting the best talent from across the globe. This is crucial for tech which requires very specific skills, strengthened by diversity.
At its most simplistic level, our industry is focussed on solving complex problems. What’s more, as our sector seeks to create more bespoke and unique experiences for users, it’s imperative that we employ people from all walks of life so that we can create tech solutions that can be operated by users from all walks of life too.
Diversity needs to be actively nurtured and invested in by tech organisations as part of internal CSR. Not only will it prevent perception blindness, it’ll also bring a whole raft of cultural and commercial benefits in the long term.
Improving your CSR
The best way to create a diverse and inclusive company culture is through collaboration. Every team needs to be involved in the ongoing creation of it. As a People Lead, I encourage all of our ANDis to contribute, and ask a number of questions: What would support their growth and development? How do they want to be heard? What do they need to feel included and represented?
From mental health first aid training and quarterly ‘ask us anything’ sessions with the senior leadership team, to regular training and volunteering days, at AND Digital we make sure our diverse range of ANDis (the collective name of our employees) are supported in their professional and personal lives.
As part of this, we have a supportive network of groups who actively meet to talk about the issues affecting them, and the ideas they have to bolster inclusion and diversity. Some of our current groups across AND include: : Women in tech, BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), LGBTQ+, Working Parents, and a Distinguishing Differences group which focuses on issues relating to neurodiversity and disability.
What’s more, our Social Responsibility, Ethics and Inclusion committee meets regularly to ensure we’re continually evolving our policy as a company in-line with ANDi needs and expectations. As such, our ethos is that ‘everyone has a seat at the table’ as they deserve to be heard and respected.
Our internal CSR provides our ANDis with access to Private Medical Insurance, Employee Assistance Programmes, gym memberships, mindfulness sessions, and wellness representatives. We walk our talk.
Make a difference
Internal CSR is the first and best thing to do. Make the investment. Get everyone involved. Your people will thrive and your workplace will feel like a tight knit community. Clients will love working with you and you’ll successfully grow. It takes time and commitment, but it’s very worthwhile. (Source: Digit)