Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is now consolidated as one of the strategic levers for corporate competitiveness. It encourages the company to adopt an ethical, responsible and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development model
Through its call for proposals entitled “Responsabilmente – Promuovere l’innovazione sociale e trasmettere l’etica” (responsibly – promoting social innovation and transmitting ethics), the Veneto Region is funding projects aimed at encouraging Veneto enterprises to adopt models that meet the CSR criteria.
In the context of this initiative, the Ca' Foscari University of Venice, the University of Padua and the University of Verona launched a research project: “The impacts of strategic social innovation on business models”. The results of the research were presented at the “Strategy innovation Forum” held from 25 to 27 October on the Economics Campus of the Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
The research set out to study CSR practices in small and medium enterprises in the Veneto region with an aim to constructing a set of indicators capable of gauging the impact of these practices on company performance.
Because of L&L’s participation in the projects arising from the Veneto Region’s call for proposals, it was among the 520 companies in the region that were researched. The empirical research was based on a Ministerial Questionnaire on CSR and an audit aimed at identifying business practices that could be classified as CSR.
The research examined all business choices that have a direct and positive impact on three areas: Environmental, Social (in the context of the region) and Governance (ESG). The actions identified in these areas were then catalogued and analysed to determine whether, and to what extent, they impact on a company’s business models and on its economic and finance indicators.
CSR actions promoted by Veneto companies tend to fall in the area of governance (42% of all ESG actions examined). These are choices and initiatives that concern corporate culture, certifications and employees. In second place (36%) were the choices made in the social area: initiatives aimed at promoting the region and raising awareness of change through the construction of regional networks. Finally, 22% of initiatives directly related to the environment, with investments made to reduce the environmental impact of the companies’ premises.
The research project was able to highlight good business practices that are often unconscious and informal in small and medium enterprises, such as those typically found the Veneto region. They are not part of a strategic CSR plan, in other words, and yet they have a positive impact on changes in the companies’ own organisational models. Social responsibility in action, therefore.
The research results show that only 0.8% of the companies interviewed have borrowed funds to finance CSR projects: the vast majority of companies implement social innovation practices only if they have residual funds at their disposal. This difficulty in considering CSR a genuinely strategic investment is linked to the relatively small size of the companies in the Veneto region. However, the research demonstrates that social innovation choices have a positive impact on the value proposition of individual companies and on their human resources: they are therefore clearly cost effective.
The presentation of the research results at the Strategy Innovation Forum was followed by a day of parallel seminars centred on the best practices implemented by the best-performing companies in each province. An interesting aspect of the research, therefore, was having created a benchmark that the companies in the research can use to compare their CSR to that of the other Veneto SMEs.
Finally, the research revealed new ways of collaborating between companies, non-profit organisations and public stakeholders: this made the university researchers consider the hypothesis of a transition from Corporate Social Responsibility to Regional Social Responsibility. This would aim to unite, in a single network, all the stakeholders operating in the same region in order to pair up individual corporate CSR practices with investments in social innovation to achieve a shared objective of sustainable development.
L&L became a partner company in the regional research project as a result of participating, together with other companies in the Alto Vicentino area, in a training workshop entitled (English translation) “Enterprises and the region: innovative models of social and regional development”, part of the “Responsabilmente – Promuovere l’innovazione sociale e trasmettere l’etica” project funded by the Veneto Region through the European Social Fund. > Aboutus/Corporate Social Responsibility