Social responsibility used to be a largely corporate gimmick or limited to the territory of charities and non-profits but all that has now changed! As consumer, awareness and concern has grown about how businesses operate and their impact on the communities and environment around them, so social responsibility has grown into a powerful positive trend. Here’s some insight into what it means to be a socially responsible business, why it matters and how to improve your brand’s credentials.
What Does it Mean to Be a Socially Responsible Business?
Essentially, this boils down to businesses using their resources and position to do some good in the world. While nothing will likely change the importance of profitability and shareholder returns, being able to demonstrate how your organisation has had a positive impact on the world is gaining considerable ground on this list of priorities. It’s not about one or the other (after all, you have to make a profit) – instead, it’s about creating mutual benefit between the communities you benefit from and your business.
Why Does It Matter?
Beyond the argument that we should all be trying to do good for goodness sake, there are plenty of very solid reasons why businesses should prioritise this concept.
- The pressure is already on – Recent years have seen a significant surge in consumer demand for socially-responsible businesses, and they are forcing change with their wallets. 91% of consumers want to see businesses do more than make a profit, and they are prepared to shift to a new brand or even pay more in order to support companies that share their values. And it’s not just consumers who are putting pressure on businesses – investors and employees themselves are prioritising organisations that build better communities and act responsibly and ethically over those that only value profitability.
- It builds trust – Today’s business-consumer relationship is far more personal than it was in the past. Consumers define themselves by the brands they support, and become vocal advocates for those that demonstrably and meaningfully share their values. By actively making your business socially responsible and sharing their fight, you build a powerful relationship with your customers, strengthened by trust and loyalty.
- It boosts employee engagement – As mentioned above, employees are also strong advocates for socially responsible businesses, and implementing measures that support these values increases morale, engagement and productivity in the workplace. Today’s employees want their work to be meaningful and important – not just a paycheque – so, showing you share their values is a great way to attract talent, reduce turnover, and create a powerful and motivated team.
- It makes your business more competitive while increasing its value – Having strong ethical or green credentials puts your business in a league of its own, making it more competitive and more sustainable in the long-term. It extends your exclusivity and added value, raising the value of your business while incentivising consumers to pay more for what you have to offer if it is sourced sustainably, supports the environment or local communities, can be recycled or is developed ethically.
How to Become More Socially Responsible in Your Business
So, how do you make sure your business is meeting consumer expectations in the current, evolving climate?
- Start with your business processes – Take a look at your business processes to see if there are ways you can improve them by removing ethical manufacturing issues, partnering with green businesses, sourcing items locally and reducing carbon emissions.
- Use your resources wisely – Implement measures to support recycling, optimise water use and save energy. Cut down on unnecessary luxuries, reduce wastage, support local suppliers, and go green wherever you can. Even your coffee can be more ethical!
- Partner up – Incentivise employees to contribute their own ideas and become partners in sustainability. In addition, partner with green and socially responsible initiatives and partners who are external to your business to create a powerful, winning combination.
- Show it off – Let your consumers know what you’re doing – what your targets are, why you’re prioritising these values, and how you are reaching your goals. Social media, email marketing, web content and blogs can highlight your socially conscious workplace culture, strategy and plans to win over your consumers in a way that is genuine, sincere and inspirational.