In the world that we live in today, being in business is about more than acquiring wealth or a name for yourself; it’s also about demonstrating that your company cares about what is happening in the world around it. In the most basic sense, this is what we call corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Big companies like Google are known for showing CSR because of their commitment to make a significant environmental impact in the world, while companies like Microsoft donate millions of dollars to nonprofits. Of course, when you’re a multibillion-dollar company, your connections and resources make it easy to give back, but it’s not only big companies that are capable of doing this. Small business can too, and here’s how.
Defining corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a business approach that aims to aid sustainable development by giving all stakeholders economic, social and environmental benefits. Throughout the years CSR has become a standard practice in most corporations. For some companies, their CSR is actually integrated in their business plan/model, regarding how they would incorporate various concerns such as environmental, social, and ethical aspects, consumer concerns and human rights.
The implementation of CSR in a small business shows that there is a vested interest in and commitment to creating equality between the economy and the ecosystem. This may come in the form of outreach programs, financial or material donations, feeding programs, tree planting and the like; however, CSR is most beneficial when the form of service is relevant to the business’s industry or agenda (i.e. food companies supporting the ethical treatment of animals). CSR may also be incorporated into a company’s operation and small business strategies, but this must be outlined with cooperation from all stakeholders.
Small businesses and social responsibility
One of the greatest benefits of the incorporation of social responsibility in small businesses is that it extends the reach of the business. People who support environmental and social issues are generally more willing to put their money into companies that share similar interests; therefore, your business can reach markets that may not have been available previously.
Reaching out to the community in this way can also help build loyal customers for your small business. Companies can connect with communities in authentic and organic ways and exchange culture through immersion. Every business entity or company has their own way of engaging in social responsibility, but when done in the right way, it could provide a great boost for your small business.
How can small businesses show social responsibility?
#1 Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
This tip can be used practically to help establish an environment-friendly culture within the office. Ensure that your office is set up in a way that makes it easy for your employees to choose recycling. Set up recycling bins around the office, reuse papers used for printing memos for scrap paper, or provide glass and dinnerware in the break room instead of paper plates and cups.
Encourage your employees to be on the lookout for areas where there may be waste and to generate ideas for how your business can eliminate such areas. For small businesses that produce goods, eco-friendly materials may be used in the making and/or packaging of the product. The cost may be more, but the benefits will outweigh the costs.
#2 Participation in environment-related events
Having recycling programs within the business could be received positively within the workplace, but it may not be easily noticed by your clients. Therefore, creating environmental programs such as tree planting activities could also be very helpful towards spreading the word about your small business’s commitment to environmental change.
When you can get the community to join you in such programs, it strengthens your business’s relationships with potential clients. Always have information about your small business and the services you provide on hand so that as people get to know your employees personally, they can also learn about your business.
#3 Engage in outreach programs
Small businesses can also engage in outreach programs, such as feeding programs or dental missions. Some companies hand out water bottles with their company logo or put on big back to school parties for local children, where they hand out free school supplies. Other companies have started community gardens wherein locals plant crops for their own consumption.
Both big and small companies can engage in corporate social responsibility to bring about change in the world. Big companies usually have the ability to bring about change on a macro level, whereas small businesses typically see change on a micro level, but when it is all said and done, change is happening. Rapport is built among the employees and with the community, and that is foundational to being able to provide good customer service and keep your clients happy.
How about you? What are the activities that your company does in relation to social responsibility?
~ Jamara Wilson, Tuxedo Impressions LLC™