Being socially conscious is not only a responsibility all entrepreneurs have, but it also helps build a lasting relationship with your community. Moreover, consumers don't only expect companies to provide great products and services anymore, but also to help the community in which they operate.
Besides the moral factor, socially conscious companies often create positive work environments and have dynamic ideologies that attract top talent. The best prospects are likely to choose a company that has an active role in their community and that dedicates some of its resources to helping others.
Although the benefits of having a socially conscious business are clear, it's hard to know where to start, especially for a startup. I've put together an article to help you on your quest to establishing social consciousness and making it a part of your brand's identity.
1. Establish a social mission.
The best and most forward way to make your business socially conscious is to create a social mission. All companies have mission and vision statements, but you should incorporate a third one that emphasizes how your company will actively seek to help the community.
Don't fall into the trap of creating a vague social mission; it'll be hard to explain to your team, and chances are you won't be able to build a strategy around it. Instead, look at the resources you can allocate to helping the community right now and write a realistic mission that focuses on promoting teamwork and transparency. Keep the mission simple, such as "Do Good Stuff."
2. Establish realistic goals.
After you have set up your mission, you should start thinking about what you are going to do and exactly how your company will help. Create a list of goals that you want to achieve in the next three to six months. Remember to set up realistic objectives that can be accomplished without causing major disruptions to your day-to-day operations.
Include both short-term and long-term goals that can be measured. These goals should:
- Address an immediate issue within your community
- Provide solutions with the resources you already have
- Educate or create awareness of an issue in your area
3. Educate your employees.
You will need the help of your entire team if you want to truly create a socially responsible business. Therefore, your employees need to be involved and informed every step of the way. They need to understand the issues your company is addressing, why you're doing it, and exactly how.
You can answer their questions by carrying out meetings and sending out informative memos. This will help them answer any customer inquiries and motivate them to join the cause.
4. Organize an in-house social responsibility team.
Once you have educated your employees, you can set up an in-house social responsibility team. These employees can dedicate some of their time to crowdsourcing ideas to figure out the best way to have a more positive impact in the community.
Your in-house social responsibility team should also:
- Be passionate about helping others
- Create and carry out an actionable list of tasks
- Work with the resources you allocated
- Launch internal and public awareness campaigns
- Report to you about the performance of the social responsibility strategy
5. Direct contributions.
You can show social responsibility through philanthropy. Donating money or resources to local charities can make a huge difference to their daily operations, having a direct impact on the community in which your business a part.
Most startups and small companies are limited as to how much money they can donate. You can always go the extra mile and set up a donation box or organize a small fundraising event to show support.
6. Encourage volunteering.
Volunteering makes a world of difference, so reward your employees who decide to enroll and volunteer in social programs. Moreover, you should scope out charitable events that need daytime volunteers and offer your team's assistance. Volunteering as a team will help your employees build a strong bond while contributing to a good cause.
Besides having a volunteering day, you can also reward those who want to volunteer during work hours. You can allow them to take paid time off to volunteer on specific dates, granted they finish all their tasks beforehand.
7. Ethical labor practices.
When you think about social responsibility, the first things to come to mind are donations and volunteering. However, social consciousness starts from within. Make sure you follow ethical labor practices, for instance:
- Treat your employees with respect and dignity
- Value their work
- Enable growth opportunities within your company
- Provide fair compensation for their services
- Create a safe and healthy work environment
8. Think about sustainability.
Even if they don't seem like an immediate concern in your particular community, environmental issues are already an alarming reality for most. Capitalist economies have spearheaded the charge of unsustainable practices, so it's every entrepreneur's responsibility to take action and start reducing their environmental impact.
Make sure you focus on sustainability and keep it in mind throughout your company's entire operations. This includes:
- Working a paperless environment, whenever possible
- Participating in recycling programs
- Implementing eco-friendly lighting and plumbing
- Creating energy-efficient policies
- Encouraging car pooling, a great place for listening to inspirational audio books.
- Discouraging any unsustainable practices and industry standards
9. Collaborate with compatible organizations.
Collaborating with other companies and organizations that have a similar mentality can help you have a bigger impact than you would on your own. Joining other local, and sometimes national companies for a cause can help you make a super-charged donation or organize an amazing fundraiser.
Partnering up with another organization can help you get more funding and it can help you find creative ways to allocate other resources into charitable work.
10. Make your effort last.
It's important to understand that social consciousness is not a marketing stunt or one-time attempt. You need to take social responsibility seriously and treat it for what it is: an ongoing effort to help a good cause in your community.
Always try to contribute on a regular basis, host an annual event, and make scheduled contributions to a good cause. Organize yourself properly and set realistic expectations to make sure you can continuously help your community.
Social responsibility is now a key part of any successful entrepreneurial venture. Remember to show gratitude towards your community and your employees to cultivate good relationships. In doing so, you will create a successful business with a high moral standing that is a valued member of society.