I believe a company has a responsibility to help society, the community in which it operates and those to which it sells or markets. For all the companies I've started, invested in and consulted, I emphasize the value of social responsibility.
It can be difficult to get your staff hooked on social responsibility. However, if you introduce the concept from the beginning, there may be a good chance that everyone will feel engaged and inspired to put social responsibility at the core of what they do.
Here are some ideas on how to get your team on board with social responsibility:
Focus on a cause they all can feel passionate about. While everyone may not have the same causes they want to support, I like to ask the team to pick three or four a year. We find a way to support those organizations, including doing something in the name of the staff member who supports that cause so they realize we are recognizing their desire to help a particular group.
Volunteer together. I’m an advocate of volunteer work, so I’m always recruiting others on my team to come help me or offer their own ideas on where we can work together once a month outside of the office. I find that this not only reinforces social responsibility, but provides a way for us to get to know each other better outside of work. This also helps enhance teamwork and reinforce our culture. Plus, we have a great time meeting those in our community.
Set the example. I like to be the model for what I believe in with social responsibility. I share my experiences with volunteering or working in other parts of the world to help develop solutions that help those communities become self-sufficient. This may also include donations from the company to particular organizations. From videos I post on Facebook and other social platforms to the press coverage I get, my team can see my passion for social responsibility and know I’m not just talking about it—I’m living it.
Provide meaningful work. Work isn’t just about a paycheck. Most will tell you that they join a small business to be part of something they can grow and where they can feel like an owner. I like to listen to my staff and hear about their beliefs and values. That way, I can then match them with projects that reinforce those beliefs and values, creating meaning and purpose for what they are doing.
Create and post a code of ethics. A code of ethics tells my team what I believe in and what I think the company should represent from the beginning. This is the start of the company's culture and a way to frame it around ethical behavior. I’ve posted it in the office and shared it in the signature line of my email, as well as used it wherever I can to reinforce what it means to do the right thing.
Give them a social responsibility strategy to follow. When I want the team to understand corporate social responsibility, I find it works well to put it in a strategic document and link that concept to everything we are trying to accomplish in the short and long term. This includes how it relates to the company’s purpose, issues about sustainability and how to treat customers and employees in a way that is socially responsible.
Offer incentives. When your staff sees that they can be rewarded for being socially responsible, it can also help to increase their efforts. For example, it could be a great parking spot for driving a hybrid or creating a carpool. In our company, good ideas on how to help the business go green can also result in a specific reward or bonus to reinforce that we reward social responsibility.
Show them it can be fun. I like to add fun to the company anyway, but to be able to add activities that illustrate how social responsibility can be entertaining is even better. This could be something like a fitness challenge to promote health and well-being, a race for a cure where we band together to raise money and draw awareness to a certain condition or a donation drive—especially during the holidays—that gathers clothing, canned goods, school supplies and more.
While more can be done with a bigger budget, these ideas show that it doesn’t necessarily require money to inspire your team. Instead, it’s about passion, creativity and leadership.
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