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CSR Case Study

Developing a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy for Octink

“Contrary to common misconception, CSR is so much more than cheque giving. Our programme is about local engagement, relationship building and sustainable business activities. The cost of our programme is negligible compared to the business benefits we have experienced in the last six months. I would urge others to gain competitive advantage and look at their CSR now rather than later."

Mike Freely, Managing Director Octink


SimplyCSR helped Octink (formerly Allsignsgroup) develop their CSR activity. Their former policy was not doing much for the business or their partners. Over a one-year period Simply CSR helped rejuvenate their policy into an award winning programme.

Octink (formally Allsignsgroup) were working with several community partners on CSR initiatives, ranging from work experience placements to charitable donations. While these are typical CSR activities, Octink wanted their CSR to be more memorable and more inspiring than the usual CSR initiatives.

Embedding CSR Strategy

Octink’s Managing Director Mike Freely wanted to reassess their CSR policy. His primary concern was the level of in-house adoption of CSR initiatives. Rather than accepting 'window-dressing' CSR policies, Octink were striving for bold, poweful plans that would make a real difference.

Octink wanted a sustainable CSR plan that built on relationships with community partners, reduced their impact on the environment, made staff feel proud of their employer and strengthened relationships with existing customers and suppliers. Oh, and they wanted a CSR policy that would win new business.

SimplyCSR began by conducting a short staff survey to identify what the 90-strong team thought about the current CSR programme and what local issues were of concern to them.

Most of Octink’s staff lives in nearby Brent, so community engagement was of interest to most people and as many staff have families, children, education and extra-curricular activities were key interests. Shooting Stars, a local children’s hospice was also surveyed as being the charity the business should support.

The photo below shows Octink being presented the Community Mark:

Octink Stephen Howard, Angela Smith, Mike Freely

From left to right: Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community. Angela Smith, Minister of State for the Third Sector. Mike Freely, Managing Director Octink.

From this survey, SimplyCSR trained a team of Octink volunteers to act as CSR champions. Their remit was to disseminate the CSR programme to all departments, feedback ideas from members of their teams and encourage everyone to get involved.

Octink were recommended and encouraged to work with the 5 key principles of CSR as detailed by Business in the Community and the Community Mark standard.

These principles were then applied to all the areas and people which the business impacts - Workplace, Marketplace, Community and Environment.

Connecting CSR

Simply CSR helped introduce Mike and the Octink team to good CSR partners such as the local Education Business Partnership and Business in the Community who were aware of local projects in need of business partners and from there the CSR programme really excelled!

As a direct result of their new CSR policy Octink won new clients such as the Chelsea Flower Show and it has started to open up doors to bigger customers with a similar CSR ethos.

CSR Awards

In June 2009 Octink achieved the Business in the Community, Community Mark national standard

The CommunityMark is a national standard of excellence in community investment, which was first launched in 2007 and endorsed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and HRH Prince of Wales.

Along with other CSR achievers including BskyB, Cadbury, EDF Energy, John Laing, Liverpool Football Club and Microsoft (UK) - Octink have proved that Corporate Social Responsibility is not just for the big players.

Octink have gone on to win Sunday Best Green Company as well as the Green Guardian award.

See Octink's CSR initiatives and award winning policy on their website.