What is corporate social responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business practice that focuses on accountability where businesses use self-regulation to acknowledge social and environmental concerns in their operations. The idea is that socially responsible corporations focus on creating initiatives to make the world a better place and their impact on all facets of life, including the environment, economy and social relations.
Benefits of socially responsible corporations
Socially responsible corporations tend to see these benefits:
- Improved public relations: Companies that follow CSR tend to have better reputations. It’s a way to show the public you care about important causes. Each time they buy your product or service, they can feel good supporting your cause.
- Higher brand recognition: Customers may have an easier time remembering your brand when you center around a specific cause. You can use CSR in your branding and marketing.
- Satisfied customers and stakeholders: Customers and stakeholders may like to support a company that has similar values as them. Making socially responsible decisions can help businesses continue to grow their public support.
- Successful financial performance: The more customers who support a business, the more sales they are likely to make. Being more socially responsible than your competitor can give you an edge.
- Ability to attract and retain talent: Many candidates look for jobs that align with their own values. By making it clear that your company is working toward the greater good, you may have an easier time finding quality employees.
- Lower costs: When done properly, going green can actually save your business money. Using less paper, electricity and water may cut down on business costs.
- Ability to make positive change: Along with benefiting your business, your true intentions should be making a difference in the world. When your business plan actually helps society, you can feel proud of the work you’re doing.
Why corporate social responsibility is important for small businesses
When you find meaningful ways to give back or support important causes, members of your community are likely to notice. When businesses of all sizes hold themselves accountable, the world can begin to see real change.
Ways to be socially responsible as a business
Here are some ways you can incorporate CSR into your business efforts:
Lower your emissions
As environmental concerns become more prevalent, it’s growing more important for businesses to embrace green practices. Here are a few ways you can get started:
- Reduce company consumption of natural resources.
- Find ethical ways to dispose of waste.
- Make products that are easy to compost or recycle.
- Donate to environmental causes.
- Teach employees how to live more eco-friendly lives.
- Sell products with less packaging.
- Use solar power in your store.
- Create initiatives from employees to walk or bike to work.
- Sponsor company-wide volunteer days at a nature conservancy or highway clean-up effort.
Make your business model charitable
Many businesses that practice CSR find ways to give back to those in need. For example, some match what their customers buy or donate. During the holidays, you could ask your customers to round up their total to support a local food pantry. Then, you can match the total amount of donations.
Starting a one-for-one business model has also become increasingly popular. This is when a company matches each sale with a donation to a charity. Companies that sell necessity items like shoes, clothing and eyeglasses can make a real impact by using this business model.
Related: Company Values
Speak up for important causes
Using your platform to support specific causes is another way to be socially responsible. Remember to be authentic when doing this, rather than solely doing it for your own benefit. Share how your company is working to support the cause and offer ways your customers can too.