With the practice of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility' (CSR) becoming more and more common as a way for companies to take responsibility for the impact their activities have on society, it’s worth looking at how this is also beginning to alter wider practices in the construction sector too.
Worldwide, the construction sector plays a pivotal role in society. When looking at the direct social impact that the industry has on society, in particular, the effect is immense.
In order to be more socially responsible, we need to be aware that the future of the construction sector is not just about industry-specific issues, but about the future of our built environment, and our local communities.
By embracing a “give-back” culture, companies in the construction sector can organically create more trust in the community, more innovation in the industry, as well as increase engagement with their company. In fact, at times, this could even mean the difference between winning a contract or being rejected.
Social Responsibility vs. Industry Profitability
Traditionally, the construction sector has been slow to adopt new processes, undergoing little to no fundamental change over the past few decades.
As members of this industry, we need to remember that the ‘artificial’ environments we create can have the power to influence both the physical and psychological wellbeing of the people who live in or interact with our creations.
By developing and maintaining an attitude of positive social responsibility, we can help to make the necessary change in the sector. This attitude can also benefit firms by improving the overall company image, as well as potential profitability.
According to a survey by Cone Communications, 87% of respondents were willing to buy a product or service based on a company’s attitude concerning a social matter. Even more interesting, was that 75% of those surveyed would in fact refuse to engage with a company if they learned that it supported an issue contrary to their own beliefs.
How can firms become more socially responsible?
A useful framework for thinking about social responsibility is to think about how you can generate social value through ‘what you build’, ‘how you build’ and ‘how you operate’.
Some of the main areas where construction firms can incorporate CSR initiatives in order to have the biggest impacts are in:
- utilising responsible products and practices during construction such as including energy-efficient HVAC and electrical systems, solar panels, and water conservation practices.
- selecting responsible supply chains through suppliers and subcontractors.
- minimising environmental damage and promoting ‘Environmental Mediation’ with local stakeholders.
- using energy-efficient designs with community wellbeing in mind.
- facilitating increased community and employee engagement.
- reducing waste during construction, and most importantly, creating a culture of sustainability.
If you’d like to know more about the importance of the interaction between infrastructure projects and local communities, as well as about ‘Corporate Social Responsibility' in general, why not have a look at our own internationally recognised Global CPD course?