I am a huge advocate of corporate social responsibility (CSR). I believe companies have the power, influence and resources to take on many of our global and local social issues.
Corporate social responsibility lets companies put their expertise and money into helping local communities while illustrating that business is not just about making profits. If anything, business has become about giving back and working in a collaborative way that offers solutions to help people and, indirectly, the world.
As a business owner, you may share my altruistic belief that CSR is critical. But you may also worry about how your business can actually dive into that level of care and concern for society when you're not sure if you even have the resources for your business. After all, your investors may not share your philosophy.
Below are some ideas on how you can incorporate CSR into your business based on some methods I've implemented in various companies I've worked with.
1. Establish your corporate social responsibility values and relevancy.
In order to make CSR part of your company culture, consider establishing a set of values and a sense of relevancy that explains why your business is socially responsible. This can become the basis for any employees or talent who is onboarded as you grow. They can look at your values and better understand the reasoning behind behaviors that promote corporate social responsibility. You can relate these to health and wellness, education, diversity or anything else you value and want your team to believe in.
2. Determine the skills related to social responsibility.
If you are slim on resources to participate in social responsibility programs, focus on those activities that can rely on your time and talent. This includes specific skills you can put to work within the company, as well as volunteer activities outside of the company.
These skills are often worth their weight in gold, as they offer programs and other organizations specific capabilities that they would not otherwise be able to tap.
3. Identify potential projects for your company.
While it may take considerable time to keep your business going, you will always be busy. That means you can start taking the time now to participate in internal or external projects related directly to corporate social responsibility. This way, these regular projects will become a living example of the CSR values you are trying to promote.
By networking, researching and studying available needs and initiatives, you may be able to identify potential projects where you and your company can assist. For example, you could:
- build homes
- start community gardens
- serve as a mentor
- volunteer to teach after-school programs
- take on workforce service training programs
I suggest creating a list of potential projects and determining what you and your team have the time and energy to do. You can narrow down the list of projects based on those that relate to the core of your business, or that you feel particularly passionate about.
4. Target talent who are on the same page about corporate social responsibility.
One of millennials' key traits is their interest in doing work that matters, so they are usually already willing to participate in CSR. In fact, they may even help you shape your policies and strategy related to corporate social responsibility. (That's not to say that older workers won't share a passion for promoting CSR.)
Do what you can to identify the team members who are willing to participate in these types of activities, as you won't be paying them to join nonprofit projects or volunteer. Try to work side by side with your team so they see you putting your words to work, knowing you share the same beliefs for the greater good.
5. Identify ways your company can be environmentally sound.
By focusing on specific initiatives related directly to the environment, which is one of the pillars of CSR, you may find that you can actually save more money in terms of overhead costs. For example, you can focus on initiatives directed at lowering the company's impact on the environment through solar-based energy use and smaller office spaces.
Try to identify how being socially responsible can also result in this added benefit and consider implementing those tactics to help promote a lean operating structure.
6. Take baby steps when implementing your CSR program.
Realistically, you may want to take small steps related to corporate social responsibility. Any action that helps the community, society and environment can make a difference.
You can build on your CSR program as you develop and expand your company. You are imbuing your business with the spirit of doing more than just making a profit; you're also in business to make the world a better place.
Murray Newlands is CEO of Sighted, an online invoicing company. He is also an entrepreneur, media influencer, author, speaker, mentor and investor. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
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