CSR in SMEs: Investigating Employee Engagement in Fair Trade Companies

Iain Davies
Publication Date: 
Ensuring employee buy-in to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is important in ensuring overall Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) engagement with CSR (Jones, 2006). In this study we use participant observation and semi-structured interviews to investigate the way in which three fair trade SMEs utilise selection and socialisation to create employee engagement in a strong triple bottom line philosophy whilst coping with resource and size constraints. The conclusions suggest that there is a strong desire for, but trade off between, selection of individuals who already identify with the triple bottom line philosophy and individuals with experience and capability to deal with growing mainstream brand management – two things which appear to be rarely found together. The more important the business experience to the organisation, the more efforts the organisation must go to in formalising their socialisation programs to ensure employee engagement. A key method in doing this however is increasing employee knowledge of and affection for the target beneficiaries of the CSR program (increased moral intensity).