Being a more socially conscious business will help you in more ways than merely receiving a tax deduction for your charitable donations.
Research has proven again and again that being socially conscious can positively impact your business’s bottom line. Both customers and employees want to support organizations who respond generously to the needs of a community and to those who are socially responsible. It also fosters innovation and collaboration and can even help you obtain funding from investors.
In short, becoming a more socially conscious business not only makes the world a better place, it also can help your business thrive. Of course, saying that you want your business to give back to the community is one thing. Actually becoming more socially responsible is another.
Certainly there are many way to be socially responsible. Here are seven ways we like:
1. Create a social responsibility mission.
“Social responsibility is part of the road map of your business,” says Nikki Korn, principle of Cause Consulting, which assists businesses with improving their corporate citizenship. In other words, social responsibility should become a part of the DNA of your business that shapes your values and the everyday choices that are made by executives, managers, and employees.
An effective socially responsible mission should focus on:
- Authenticity. Half-hearted donations and charity events won’t be effective in the long-term.
- Minimizing harm. Think about how you can minimize the negative consequences of your business like reducing your carbon footprint, paying employees appropriately, and, manufacturing safe, high-quality products.
- Thinking locally. For example, your social media manager could donate their time by helping a local non-profit launch a social media marketing campaign.
- Focusing on efforts that promote passion and teamwork among your team.
- Being transparent about any setbacks that your business has experienced while becoming more socially conscious and sharing the progress that you’ve made.
2. Establish attainable goals.
Establishing a goal like ending world hunger is admirable, but that would be a massive undertaking that a small business could not realistically achieve. Even saying something like "ending world hunger," has been said so often that it has become cliché.
Instead, take baby steps and set goals that can be attained. For example, start with ending hunger for the vets in your community. As with any other goals that you’ve set for your business, make sure that they can be measured so that you know that you’re heading into the right direction.
3. Target good talent.
“More startups and new businesses that hire millennials or other young workers are launching initiatives to support their communities and getting that built in early, because it's important to attract that generation of workers [who] want to be doing good while they're working," says Kerri Golden, co-founder and general partner of JOLT Fund, which provides seed capital, as well as, mentorship to early-stage businesses.
In fact, 42 percent of professionals surveyed by the staffing agency OfficeTeam reported that an organization's participation in charitable activities influence their decision to work there.
4. Crowdsource ideas.
According to research from Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact specialty group 44 percent of 216 executives from Fortune 200 companies had used crowdsourcing to gather ideas for the company’s social responsibility programming. Even more staggering, 95 percent of these executives found crowdsourcing “valuable to the organization’s pro-social or CSR efforts.”
Use digital tools to engage employees in the idea-generation process,” suggests Lain Hensley, Odyssey Teams COO. “Ask them what they want the company to take on to give back to the community.”
“Then use those ideas to create a corporate social responsibility culture that is more inclusive, democratic and participatory.”
5. Collaborate with likeminded businesses and organizations.
By partnering with other small businesses, you can discover inventive ways to become more socially conscious. For small businesses these opportunities can be found through their local Chamber of Commerce, local branches of associations, networking groups, or asking their neighbors. Businesses can also work with charities. For example, Subaru's “Share the Love Event” donates millions of dollars to both local and national charities.
When teaming-up with local businesses and charities you’re improving the local economy and entire community as a whole.
6. Establish charity rewards and bonuses.
It’s no secret that being charitable makes us feel satisfied and happy. You can bring those feelings into the workplace by encouraging your team to be more charitable. Not only does that make your business more socially conscious, it boosts morale and productivity.
For example, Deloitte offers unlimited time-off for volunteering. Listen Up Español “connected donations to employee sales numbers by offering to donate a set amount for each successful sale.” You could also launch a referral program where employees who refer people who make charitable donations or complete charitable hours.
7. Reimagine giving.
Finally, “Think less about giving back and more about ensuring that the business is giving as,” writes Matthew E. May on American Express's OPEN Forum. “It's not about what the business does after the money is earned (donations of time and resources) or as part of their efforts (supply chain sustainability) or even in addition to what is not responsible at all (wasteful practices). A healthy philanthropic and community function is laudable but real giving is in how people do business every day.”