One major thing that customers are interested in these days is how companies are helping others and making a difference outside of the walls of their stores or offices. In fact, around 71% of millennials in the U.S. believe businesses should address key social issues.
People want to see businesses taking an active stance in their communities, as well as worldwide dilemmas. That’s why this idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is essential. As a business owner, you have the visibility and social influence to make change happen, whether big or small. And you also have the opportunity to mobilize others to be active in the causes they care about.
That’s the focus of today’s blog post. We’ll do a deep dive on what corporate social responsibility is, some examples from other companies, as well as a few possibilities for ways that you can get your business involved.
What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?
As defined by Double the Donation, “CSR is a term used to describe a company’s efforts to improve society in some way. These efforts can range from donating money to nonprofits to implementing environmentally friendly policies in the workplace.”
CSR is about looking at the world around you and seeing what resources you may have to support the causes and values your business was built on. Not only is it an excellent opportunity to show individuals what your business cares about most deeply, it provides a way for you and your employees to create a positive difference.
Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility
Particularly today, when there are so many causes to be a part of and the pressure is on for companies to get involved, there are many organizations setting the precedent for social change. These are just a few of those companies.
A large and well-known food and beverage company, Unilever has placed a strong emphasis on sustainability, human rights, and reducing the amount of plastic used in packaging. They have a dedicated webpage for educating customers about how they can practice sustainability, as well as showing how the company itself is trying to make a difference.
Their most notable initiatives include creating a more sustainable type of tea and reducing plastic usage.
Another example of a company exploring the world of sustainable business practices, Owens Corning sells materials and services in roofing, insulation, and composite materials. The business is based in Canada, but their services reach the global stage.
They practice CSR by creating sustainable materials and setting sustainability goals. These include providing an equal quality of life for all employees, increasing diversity among their staff, and reducing their environmental footprint.
Disney is unique in that it holds a strong emotional (even nostalgic) relationship with its customer base. Therefore, they have taken a leadership position in key areas as a way of mobilizing their large audience.
They, too, have taken an active stance when dealing with sustainability, and have also done a lot with philanthropy. This includes donating to children’s hospitals, scholarships, and generally investing in younger generations.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Small Businesses
When deciding that you are able to begin on-going CSR campaigns, it’s important to decide on reasonable expectations for what your company can and cannot do. As you go along in your CSR journey, here are a few considerations specific to small businesses:
While there is absolutely nothing stopping you from helping others around the world as you’re able, it may also be a good idea to look around your current neighborhood and see where you can lend a helping hand. As it is, you’re probably abundantly clear on what the needs of your community might be and may even have a few ideas of solving them.
Maybe this includes making monthly donations to food shelters in your area. Or, it could include giving employees a day out of the office to go volunteer together at a specific organization.
By actively giving to your local community, you will continuously make it a better place over time. Never underestimate the power of your help in your own backyard.
Always Be Authentic
As consumers, we’ve all seen it: a large company gets involved with a cause solely for a publicity stunt, and then it blows up in their faces. It puts that company in a pretty big hole in the eyes of the public, one that is nearly impossible to crawl out of.
Always be sure that the causes you’re fighting for line up with the values your business was built on from day one. While it’s important to share with others what you’re doing for the community as a means for getting them involved as well, that should not be the sole focus.
If you wouldn’t get involved in the cause if no one was looking, it may not be the one best-suited for your team or organization.
Team Up With Others
Get involved with other like-minded small businesses in your area to create social change, whatever that may look like for your unique case. Creating a support network of active small businesses will help give you a better sense of specific needs, as well as solidify your company within the wider small business community.
It also gives you an opportunity to get to know the other organization’s audience and overall foster a better environment within your own company.
CSR is an important aspect of any business, large or small. Any help that you can give to the causes that matter most to you are sure to create ripple effects within your community and beyond. The key to getting started is looking around and seeing what is possible for your business right now. How can you make a positive impact in the lives of those around you?