5 Reasons Social Responsibility Is a Step in the Right Direction for Small Business

You want to attract talent and investors, and they both want to feel good about what they are committing to.

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By Chidike Samuelson

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The business terrain is one that changes much faster than most -- basically because the way business is done evolves based on cultural changes, changes in technology and even generational changes. It's safe to say that at all times, at least one of these things is changing.

We are in the era of giving back and social impact. Businesses should face this, and stop using the fact that they are not yet "big businesses" as an excuse for boycotting charitable involvements or social responsibility. Businesses that do this are missing out on the great benefits hidden on the other side of socially responsible companies.

Related: This Company Thrives by Giving Away 20 Percent of Its Revenue

Giving back to society or taking care of society used to be on the basis of "We have done well; now let us give back." But in today's business climate, its more like, "We want to do well, so we have to give something." Here are a few reasons why you should consider becoming more socially responsible as a small business.

1. Socially responsible companies attract passionate talent.

The earliest definitions of business revolved around the ability to make money from selling a product or delivering a service, but those definitions have changed drastically based on the state of the world and the changes in it.

Today, more than half of the workforce in America and other parts of the world is made up of millennials, and they are more likely to work for a cause than for a business. What this means is that they want to be able to say that working for a business or a company means much more than just the mundane cycle of the job.

An astounding 2003 Stanford University study found that MBA graduates would sacrifice an average of $13,700 of their annual salary to work for a socially responsible company. Basically, people now prefer purpose over a paycheck.

Charitable involvements and all-around social mindedness is a great attraction point to top talent. When they come to you -- and they will come -- they will bend over backward for you. If you are a small business, you have a great need for top talent to get you closer to the dream.

2. Employee morale is greatly boosted.

Your staff doesn't need to work for Apple, Microsoft or Google to be excited about work. There are a lot of ways to keep your staff happy and productive, and one of them is to add a charitable cause to your business. While people feel great about changing the world at Facebook, your staff needs a way they can brag about changing the world, too.

Charitable involvement and taking care of the environment can be done according to scale. No one is asking you to give like Microsoft, but you do have a responsibility to change the world in some form. A recent survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK found that 44 percent thought meaningful work that helped others was more important than a high salary, and 36 percent would work harder if their company benefited society.

Studies have shown that inspired employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied employees. The implications of this to employers of labor is huge. It could mean that in the near future more people will be willing to work for less if the company somehow benefits society. It could also mean that you could inspire your staff to work more as opposed to hiring more people, which is the dread of most small businesses.

Related: Passion Drives You to Succeed; Let It Also Drive You to Give Back

3. Social responsibility doubles as marketing.

Serving food at a shelter or orphanage with crested T-shirts and bags is one cute way to get the word out there about your business and your services. Doing good does a lot of good for your company in this regard, because it increases curiosity around your company while increasing goodwill.

In this recent article from The Couch Mentality, Maulik Patel, CEO of CouponsMonk, said, "We involve ourselves in a lot of charity work not only because we love the community and really want to give back, but because businesses can buy a great deal of goodwill from the communities that they serve. Your business becomes more attractive... it's a marketing strategy of sorts."

Goodwill may not be quantifiable in dollars and cents, but it does show up in the balance sheet at the end of the day. In fact, surveys have shown customers are 85 percent more likely to buy a product that is associated with a charity.

4. It attracts investment.

Investors are becoming far more interested in what you are doing for society in addition to what you can do for them. It's called "social impact investing." The international community has woken up to what is now being called the "restoration economy," and businesses that fall into this category have built great businesses from the needs in society.

Perhaps one of the most socially responsible business of the past decade is Blake Mycoskie's TOMS. Mycoskie started the shoe company on the premise that for every pair of shoes sold, one pair would be donated to a child in need. With its eyewear sales, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. In fact, all of Mycoskie's production lines give back in some significant way. This has attracted massive sponsorship and partnerships over the years.

Whole Foods supports sustainable agriculture, promotes the reduction of waste and consumption of nonrenewable resources and encourages environmentally sound cleaning and store-maintenance programs.

The list of businesses that have taken center stage with this strategy is long, and there is no reason you cannot join in irrespective of the size of your business.

Related: People Want to Help the World, But They Want to Be Recognized for It

5. It's the decent thing to do.

The world is broken, and we all have had a part to play in it, whether we know it or not. It's our duty to give back and to take care of the Earth. For thousands of years, man and businesses have taken from the Earth and from people. Now is the time when we give back. Every business that will be reputable in the next decade would be in queue to do so.

Do it because it is good and because it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside and because it gives you that stride in your step that suggests that you are living a purposeful life.

If you need ideas on what angle to take your social responsibility toward, here is a business tip. Listen to society. It's always speaking to you.
Chidike Samuelson

Entrepreneur, Lawyer, Author and Freelance writer

Chidike Samuelson is a serial entrepreneur and professional freelance writer specialized in developing content for businesses and websites. He offers general freelance writing services and business consulting at www.couchmentality.com.

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