Every person wants to make their impact on the world. Even if it’s something small, most people have the desire to do some good. If you can help your staff or customers feel like they’ve done good, they’ll want to keep doing business with you. That’s just part of the power of corporate social responsibility initiatives. They make customers feel like they’re helping their community in a small but meaningful way by doing business with you.
Specifically, corporate social responsibility initiatives are created to provide economic, social and environmental benefits to the company’s stakeholders.
In some situations, your corporate responsibilities can be about making up for some of the harm that some businesses inevitably cause. For example, if you run a furniture business, you might be worried about sustainability. In this case, you could use your corporate responsibility to make a positive impact. Why not make a promise to plant more trees than you use, or invest a portion of profits into environmental research? Some businesses, such as “Number Two” are even built around the idea of being environmentally responsible where other companies are not.
These are just a few corporate social responsibility examples. It might be obvious what steps you can take, but if you struggle to find the right ways to implement corporate responsibility, you may find some inspiration below.
By implementing these initiatives, you can grow your business and also give back to the community. Here are five ways small businesses can implement corporate social responsibility initiatives.
1. Do Your Research
To figure out what initiatives you should implement, start by researching past companies and see what they’ve done successfully.
A quick Google search will give you hundreds of ideas for initiatives that you can run.
Here are some examples of corporate social responsibility initiatives in action:
- LinkedIn has “InDay.” One Friday each month, the company has their employees participate in activities like community service.
- Target has donated more than $875 million to education since 2010.
- Cisco’s employees participate in more than 160,000 volunteer hours around the world each year.
- Starbucks commits to minimizing the environmental impact of their business and its footprint as well as inspiring other businesses to do the same. They also have a number of community outreach programs.
Research does not only have to be about what the other businesses in a similar position are doing. Your research might extend to the local issues, and things that desperately need your support in the local area. Perhaps there are crime issues or problems with poverty that your business can have a positive impact on.
2. Know Your Goals
We’ve talked about the importance of company culture in the past. Hopefully, you’re in the process of building a strong company culture if you don’t have one already.
Whatever the case, your corporate social responsibility goals should be in line with your company culture and be somewhat relevant to what your company does.
The furniture example is a useful one. A lot of industries have some unavoidable negative impact. Chopping down trees to build furniture, while important, does harm to the environment. Making up for this harm with initiatives to grow forests and improve the environment is one fantastic thing you can do, but many companies go above and beyond. For instance, for every tree your company uses, you could ensure that three trees are planted in its place. This may not even be too costly for your business, but it is the socially responsible thing to do.
Remember not to try and do too much, though. Set a few realistic goals and aim to provide help in one or two areas to start. This will help you avoid overspending as well as overwhelm.
3. Set a Budget
Like any business endeavor, you need to know the costs involved as well as how much you can afford to spend.
Start by creating a budget for corporate social responsibility initiatives. Then research and estimate the costs of different corporate social responsibility ideas.
It is good to benefit the community and your stakeholders, but it’s important to do it in a way where it’s financially responsible for your company (otherwise, you may not be in business long enough to implement future corporate responsibility initiatives).
Your corporate responsibilities might be a relatively affordable pursuit. Many of the more social activities that you can incorporate into your business require more in terms of hours and dedication than they do money. This IT Soccer League was set up to boost fitness and improve relationships. Replicating this within your business could be an affordable thing to do.
4. Create the Initiatives
With your goals and budget in mind, it’s time to set off to create your initiatives.
To help with the next step of getting your employees to buy into the schemes you put in place, we also recommend giving them some input. The best way for corporate social responsibility to spread is to ensure that people actually care about it. Your staff might have some surprisingly good ideas on the corporate policies you can put in place, as a lot of people have causes that are close to their heart.
Here are some traits of good corporate social responsibility initiatives:
- Benefit stakeholders
- Engage employees and further build company culture
- Fit in with your company’s values and principles
- Help the local community
- Help the industry you are involved in
There’s not always a “right” or a “wrong” way to help, but some corporate social responsibility examples seem to make a lot more sense than others. For example, a pharmaceutical company could use some of their profits to fund treatment for people who can’t otherwise afford it. There are certain ways to tie-in closer to the industry you are in and make use of your expertise.
5. Get Buy-In from Your Team
Once you’ve decided on what corporate social responsibility initiatives to run with, you need to get your team on board.
Show them how these initiatives will help the business grow and profit. For example, perhaps the initiatives will increase brand recognition and loyalty. Seeing that positive things are happening as a result of your company’s work is great, but if your employees can also see how this will improve the strength of the business and even its profits, they are likely to be even more passionate.
Also explain exactly how these initiatives will benefit the community and stakeholders, as well as how it will benefit them. And why not allow your team to go out and get firsthand experience of plans you are putting in place?
Buy-in from your team can also allow you to make the most of their skills. These amazing examples of using business skills to help local charities are a great way to take what you already have to offer and allow charitable organizations to take advantage.
By letting your team have a strong involvement in your corporate social responsibility, you may also increase team spirit and morale. Doing some good in the community is a great way for your staff members to bond.
Move Forward With Corporate Social Responsibility
You’re probably not just in business to make a quick buck. Odds are, you want to give back and make an impact in your community as well. Where would we be without the community? We never know when we are going to need the help of others. “Paying it forward” by giving something to the community is the right thing to do. If you have been fortunate enough to make a success of your business, it may be time to give something back.
We all want to make our own impact on the world. You can make your impact (and help your customers make their impact) by implementing corporate social responsibility initiatives. These five ideas will get you started.