Building a Socially Responsible Business (An Introduction)
What is a socially responsible business?
Social Responsibility is known within larger organisations as CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility and is the responsibility that companies have to operate in the best interests of the environment, their local community, stakeholders and wider society.
We can consider this to be the company’s ‘conscience’ and it my be demonstrated by a range of initiatives, operational structures, policies and procedures which highlight how the company works towards more sustainable outcomes.
Not just for corporates
But Social Responsibility isn’t just for corporates, it’s important for businesses of every size to recognise their responsibility to our changing world.
For those of us that run a small business we have the advantage that running our business in a way which reflects our own priorities and values should be so much easier than it is for a large corporate… and much easier to quantify the results.
Why should my business be more socially responsible?
Even the smallest of businesses can make a huge impact when they make a commitment to be more socially responsible. Below we will have a look at some of the small steps you can take, and I bet you already do some of them without even thinking about it.
Firstly, here’s why being more socially responsible is good for you and your business…
Make a Difference
To you, your customers, suppliers and the local (and wider) community
Lead the way
Be different, chose steps that fit with your values and it will be part of your USP
Know that you’re making a difference
Do the right thing
Sleep better at night knowing that your business is working towards sustainable solutions
Raise your profile
Be the business that stands out for all the right reasons
Inspire other small businesses
Show other small businesses what can be done
Help create a healthier, sustainable and more productive world
How can my business be more Socially Responsible?
There are three main headings we can talk about in Social Responsibility. I’ve listed them below with some examples.
Running your business in a more ethical way is about doing right by PEOPLE. Demonstrating values such as honesty, integrity, respect and fairness.
CSR examples are Fair Trade, providing equal wages and good working conditions.
In your business this could be demonstrated by your level of communication with your customers, how promptly you reply to emails and what they expect from you in terms of communication. It could also be as simple as paying your suppliers on time!
Environmental responsibility is probably more important now than it has ever been for all of us.
When we think of the responsibilities of large organisations, oil or manufacturing companies for example, we might think about carbon emissions and recycling.
For small business we can think about reducing our single-use plastic usage. This can be easy to do and make a huge difference. If you’d like some ideas and a friendly place to share challenges have a look at the Plastic Free Snowdonia facebook page.
When we introduced Snowdonia Challenge in 2017 we made the decision that we would not use single-use plastic bottles or cups. Instead we provide a refillable water bottle to all walkers (or ask them to bring their own) and have refill stations at rest stops. We then extended this to all of our events and estimate that since 2017 we have saved up to 7000 single-use plastic water bottles!Tracey Ann Breese – Breese Adventures
Plant a tree (or 10), we can never have enough trees! If you can’t plant your own trees then you could make a one off or regular donation to the Woodland Trust to help them send tree planting kits to schools and communities.
You could also look at where you source your supplies from. Could they be sourced more locally and save on the ‘miles travelled’?
Philanthropic or charitable Social Responsibility is about donating money, goods, services or time to a charity or not-for-profit organisation (nfp).
This is something I feel very strongly about and one of the easiest ways that you and your business can really make a difference.
There are four main areas I want to talk about when choosing to partner with a charity/nfp.
- The different ways you can support a charity/nfp
The options and opportunities available for you to support the organisation of your choice.
2. How to chose a charity/nfp
What should your decision making process look like? What needs to be considered to make sure that the partnership is as productive and effective as it can be.
3. The benefits to your business
How your business can benefit from building a partnership with a charity or not-for-profit organisation and how you can maximise the opportunities.
4. The benefits to you and your team
The personal advantages that you and your team can get out of a partnership with the right organisation.
How you can support a charity/nfp
Fundraise in house
Easier if you have a shop or place of business with staff and customers that visit. Things like ‘dress down days’ for staff or customer raffles (please be aware that their are laws regarding raffles and lotteries – gambling commission).
There are an unlimited number of ways you can fundraise ‘in-house’, just let your creativity flow! (or get in touch, we’d love to help).
Collection pots have always been a good way to collect for charities. In these strange times it seems less people are carrying cash it may be worth looking at alternatives, for the short term at least.
There are hundreds of ways that you can volunteer for a charity, whether it’s just a one off few hours or a longer term commitment. What each charity/nfp will need will vary depending on the type and size of organisation. If you’re going to volunteer your precious time make sure your skills are being put to the best possible use.
Donate products or services
This is fairly easy to do and a great way of making a difference while getting your products in front of a new audience. Perhaps one of your values is to support poverty and you sell food products that you could donate to your local food bank.
If you run a service based business then this might be a case of volunteering your time, or you may run courses for example and donate one free place at each course for a member of your chosen charity to attend.
Take part in fundraising events
Whichever charity or nfp you chose there will be a wide range of different fundraising events you can take part in from coffee mornings to skydives. If you’re looking for something more challenging going then many charities will offer fundraising walks and runs you can take part in.
You can see our range of challenges here and the charities we work with.
Create your own fundraising events
If your chosen charity doesn’t offer the type of challenge you’d like to take part in then why not create your own?
We can work with you on creating the perfect challenge for you and make sure you, your business and your chosen charity get the most out of it.
See our Corporate page for more details.
Tracey will be running some workshops on this subject. You can book your place through Eventbrite using the link below…
The next blog in this series can be found here
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If you’d like to hear Tracey talk more about Social Responsibility or would like to have a chat about the best steps for your business please get in touch with her on firstname.lastname@example.org.