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Insight: Corporate social responsibility

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Many companies now recognise the need to be a responsible employer and to ‘do the right thing’ for their employees, the community and the environment.

This is the rapidly growing trend called corporate social responsibility (CSR).

According to incident management specialist FMG, 75% of FTSE 350 companies are devoting whole sections of their annual report and accounts to CSR.

John Catling, FMG chief executive, says: “CSR is gaining more and more traction in our corporate world.”

However, some companies make the mistake of simply seeing it as “unwelcome box ticking exercise”, Catling adds.

What’s more, there are still many businesses that don’t consider the role that the fleet has to play in CSR.

A recent Fleet News poll asked readers whether their company has a formal CSR policy which incorporates fleet activities.

Around half (48%) answered ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’.

The impact of company vehicles

Being a responsible employer should extend to the fleet, according to Tracey Scarr, fleet and road safety manager at Arval.

She says: “The operation of company vehicles has a direct impact on road safety, environmental performance and employee wellbeing.

"Driving is one of the most dangerous work-related activities that most people do, while company vehicles generate emissions which clearly have an effect on the environment.

"As a result, fleets have a responsibility to proactively minimise the impact that they have.”

A successful CSR policy needs buy-in at high level and the board should play a key role in communicating the policy to employees.

But it is equally important that employees buy-in to the policy and don’t simply perceive it as a PR exercise.

“Employee engagement at all levels is crucial to the success of a CSR policy,” says Scarr.

“At Arval we have a CSR committee, backed by senior management to provide credibility. While many of our activities are employee driven; ownership helps to embed them within the business and make them a success.”

Arval also works with stakeholders outside the business to deliver CSR, which allows it to benefit from their expertise, experience and, in some instances, resources.

“As an example, we work with Michelin on ‘Fill up with Air Days’, checking tyres for wear and pressure. In doing this we are showing a clear commitment to support drivers while minimising their environmental impact and reducing the chances of tyre related accidents,” Scarr says.

Environmental impact

A commitment to reducing the fleet’s environmental impact should be part of CSR.

This could include CO2 emissions reduction targets, operating alternative-fuel vehicles, incentivising employees to opt for lower-emitting vehicles, CO2 emissions caps and cutting down on business travel.

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