With the widespread use of the internet worldwide, people have become more aware of commercialism’s long-term social and environmental impact in their communities. As a result, many consumers have started to expect more than just functional benefits from the brands they support, demanding accountability in how they operate their businesses.
Thus, entrepreneurs need to realize the increasing influence of corporate social responsibility in the performance of their products or service in the marketplace. While profit is still a major consideration, companies must also consider their responsibility to do what is best for society.
Defining Corporate Social Responsibility
To put it simply, corporate social responsibility or CSR is about consciously making business decisions that benefit the community. There is no specific standard on what every company must do in order to be socially responsible because this depends on the organization’s ability to shift its operations accordingly.
However, a good measure of a socially responsible company is one that places equal importance on people and the planet along with its own profits. This can be exhibited in different ways, which are generally categorized as either environmental, philanthropic, ethical, or economic.
Corporate Social Responsibility In Small Businesses
Corporate social responsibility is not just limited to multinational corporations or big businesses. At first glance, it may seem that these companies leave the most impact and thus are the ones who should hold the most accountability.
However, when seen as a group, small businesses with less than 500 employees actually have a much larger footprint in the market. There are around 32 million small businesses in the US as of 2021. This is equivalent to 99.9% of the total enterprises in the country. These companies are also in charge of more than 61 million employees, which is about half of the total US workforce.
As a small business, there are many things that you can do to practice corporate social responsibility without sacrificing your bottom line. Here is a quick list for your consideration:
1. Set Clear Goals And Priorities
In order to run a successful CSR policy, you need to start with a plan in mind. You cannot go into it blindly, thinking that this is just a fad that will change in the near future. The CSR policies must be feasible and sustainable, which means that all aspects of the operations must be considered before implementing changes or starting a new process.
Begin by listing down your core values as a company and think about how you can apply them in a socially responsible manner. Consider the environmental, philanthropic, ethical, as well as the economic impact of your core values, then identify key areas where change can be implemented quickly and more efficiently.
2. Start From Within
The company culture must first embrace and promote social responsibility in order to make your CSR program effective. To do this, employees need to incorporate the company’s core values into their daily operations.
The initiative to aid social and environmental activities in the community should be taken by the company, such as making material contributions or hosting events that support these causes. After this, encourage your employees to do the same either through direct donations or by volunteering their time.
3. Be Transparent About Your CSR Efforts
Corporate social responsibility has been used as a buzzword by many companies before, and consumers have now become skeptical of companies who make these kinds of claims. To set your company apart from those who make false claims, you need proof to show that the company is serious in its CSR pursuits.
For example, a company involved in the fashion industry would use labels that mark their products as union made clothing. This tells consumers that the business adheres to ethical practices when it comes to its manufacturing processes.
Whenever possible, share specific CSR-oriented company policies and programs with the public. Keep your consumers updated on the progress of ongoing campaigns and let them know that the company is taking real and actionable steps towards being more socially responsible.
4. Work With The Right Partners
After you have calibrated your internal processes towards social responsibility, you also need to look at external processes and look for the right partners to work with. If your partners do not share the same values, they can weaken or even counter your CSR efforts.
Do your due diligence and conduct background checks on organizations that you are planning to partner with. Avoid the ones who have been involved in environmental or social issues, especially those with unresolved cases. Ask your suppliers whether their materials have been ethically sourced and check the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes.