Why Social Responsibility Matters, and How to Develop it in Your Business

Corporate social responsibility is a hot topic of discussion in the business community, especially in the last few years. However, despite the increasing power of corporate responsibility in the minds of consumers, many people still have a relatively limited understanding of the concept.

What is corporate social responsibility, and why does it matter in the contemporary business environment?

Corporate Social Responsibility: At a Glance

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, corporate social responsibility can be defined thusly:

corporate-responsibility

Many businesses have come to embrace the concept of corporate social responsibility as a way to build affinity between consumers and their brand. A growing body of research now reinforces the idea that companies who place social responsibility as a high priority attract greater customer loyalty. In short, customers are willing to pay for brands who make a positive impact.

Placing high emphasis on social responsibility means businesses can grow their bottom line while also making the world a better place.

Matters to Consider Regarding Social Responsibility

If you are interested in making corporate social responsibility more of a priority in your organization, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Define your company’s goals for corporate social responsibility. This decision shouldn’t be made by only those at the top. Instead, you should involve everyone at every level of the company to help create your organization’s unique vision for bettering the world.
  • Remember that different methods work for different organizations—what might be best for a grocery store may not necessarily be the best use of resources for an eCommerce retailer.
  • Once your organization has its objectives, conduct extensive research on what would be the best way to allocate your time and energy.

Projects and Ideas to Consider

Wondering about some specific ideas to emphasize corporate social responsibility the workplace? Here are just a few ways in which businesses can begin making the world a better place.

1. Dollar-for-Dollar Matching

One of the easiest ways to instigate change is to make a financial donation. A tactic that makes this method especially impactful is to offer a dollar-for-dollar match. This essentially means that your business will match a set dollar amount donated by others.

Ask your employees and customers to make a charitable donation, and then offer to donate that same amount in response. Donation matching will not only double the value of your efforts, but it’s a great way to demonstrate to customers in a very up-front manner that your brand cares.

If you are looking for organizations to donate to, I’d like to recommend a project that I’m personally very passionate about, Get Paid for Grades.  This non-profit program is unique in that donations are tied to specific performance requirements – geared to help students who are not motivated by traditional scholarships (similar to how a for-profit business earns money based on providing services to others).  I currently serve as Executive Director and must admit, it has been one of my most favorite roles to date!

2. Perform Pro-Bono Services

Allow your staff to apply their talents and expertise in order to make a positive impact on the world. Think about ways in which your company’s products or services might benefit a nonprofit cause. For example, a law firm could offer a set number of hours each month to help families with legal assistance, or a doctor could set-up a free clinic every month.

Each of us possesses a unique set of talents and skills, and in many cases, those skills could benefit someone in need.

3. Volunteer as a Group

Another way to maximize your effect is to get your organization to come out in force. Ask everyone to join together and combine their efforts toward a larger goal to make the local community a better place. Some ideas include:

  • Help build houses for families in need with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Volunteer at a local food bank.
  • Create and assemble playgrounds for kids in underserved communities with Kaboom!
  • Volunteer to help clean-up a local park or nature preserve.

4. Participate in Charitable Events

Ask your employees to join a company-wide team to complete events like Race for the Cure or March of Dimes. Every year, our company participates in Tough Mudder.

These are great opportunities for team-building, as well as a way to raise awareness and support for important causes that make a difference in the world.

Of course, these are just a few of the countless charitable events around the country. You could opt to participate in a lesser-known, more localized event to benefit a cause important in your community.

5. Support Employee Activism

More than likely, your organization has a number of members who would love the chance to volunteer for an important cause, but simply don’t have any extra time to spare.

One method of supporting your employees’ passion for volunteerism is to provide paid time-off to your employees which is specifically designated for volunteer efforts. This would be time outside of employees’ existing vacation time, which they could claim by providing documentation to the company’s HR department.

More and more businesses are getting in-line with this approach, as it helps to make a difference in the world while also encouraging employee happiness and loyalty.

Corporate Social Responsibility—It Makes the Difference

Corporate social responsibility is a great way to help grow your company’s brand; however, it’s about much more than that. Embracing corporate social responsibility allows your organization to transcend the confines of a “business” and become an entity for positive change in the world.

This year, remember to embrace your company’s social responsibility—you can make a change in the world!

Monica Cardone