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November 26, 2010updated 12 Apr 2017 4:18pm

CSR is good for business

From neoclassical economists to leading business publications, CSR is often portrayed as a philanthropic side activity that has no real impact on core business.

By Joel Posters

Photograph of Joel PostersCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has always had its detractors. From neoclassical economists to leading business publications, CSR is often portrayed as a philanthropic side activity that has no real impact on core business.

Not surprisingly, during the recent economic downturn, many financial sector firms have drastically cut CSR budgets. De Lage Landen has sought to buck this trend by expanding our strategic investments in this area.

De Lage Landen has identified a number of key factors that underpin this decision. First of all, the demand for eco-market products, such as environmentally friendly cars, renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment will continue to exhibit strong growth.

We believe the leasing industry has a significant role to play in financing this market. We also notice that our clients are increasingly focusing on sustainable innovation in their business, and DLL aims to be a strategic partner in those endeavours.

We have also introduced CSR in our risk management procedures by evaluating environmental, social and ethical risk issues during our client acceptance and review processes.

Where material risk issues are identified, we actively engage with our clients to develop constructive solutions. This approach enhances business decision-making, strengthens client relationships, and reduces CSR-related reput

Our CSR strategy also strives to improve our relationships with key external stakeholders, such as regulators, non-governmental organisations, local communities and investors. Moreover, we believe CSR can be a valuable tool in staff engagement and attracting new talent, as well as drive internal cost reductions through efficiencies in resource use.

The associated improvements in our environmental and carbon footprint are added benefits.

Our investments in CSR are not devoid of risk. For example, building CSR capacity and expertise requires investment. Such decisions can be difficult to justify if returns are hard to quantify and/or require a longer-term investment horizon, as can be the case with CSR initiatives.

In the financing of renewable energy equipment, concerns related to residual values, technology risk and creditworthiness, for example, can all complicate decision making.

Perhaps at the heart of our CSR business case is the view that governments and leading businesses are increasingly promoting the longer term migration towards a low-carbon economy.

By embedding CSR within DLL, even in these uncertain times, we expect to be better placed to deliver enhanced business value together with our clients and key stakeholders going forward.

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