Social responsibility is the act of being obligated to look after society and the ecosystem around us. This ethical framework suggests that we shouldn’t lose track of what’s important and that we should focus on the bigger picture (i.e. environmental issues, society, etc.
Traditionally speaking, the primary purpose of any business is to maximize profits for its owners and its stakeholders.
We often get caught up in this materialistic goal and forget other important philanthropic goals that promote overall welfare.
On a global level, governments and private corporations are often kept held accountable for their impact on the environment, and for who they help or hurt. But social responsibility doesn’t necessarily have to be on a national or a global scale for it to be effective.
Even when doing business locally, there are many reasons why a company might want to engage in social responsibility. Because, after all, social issues come in all shapes and sizes.
Whether it’s helping the environment, empowering minorities, or trying to end poverty – we can all do our part to contribute.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, every little bit helps. And that brings us to our first point.
1. Raising awareness
It may not seem like a lot, but all change starts small.
Even if you think your actions are very small scale, which might be the case as an SMB or a startup – the least you’re doing is raising awareness. And on a lower level, this is all you can ask for to begin with.
By spreading goodwill and addressing social and environmental issues, you’re leaving a lasting mark and raising awareness for other businesses (and generations) to come.
Whether it be through a marketing campaign or word of mouth, awareness is an important step.
To do this, first, establish a social mission and be realistic when promoting your nonprofit.
Don’t fall into the trap of being pro-environment (like many businesses claim to be) without doing anything about it.
Once you set up your mission, you need to start thinking about what you’re going to do exactly and how your company is going to help.
Include both short-term and long-term goals through your campaign that you can measure and track. These goals may include:
- Addressing an immediate issue in your community.
- Providing solutions with what resources you already have.
- Educating or creating awareness for an issue in your area.
These are all relatively small scale goals but important ones nonetheless.
After all, all HAIRY goals start small and take time to achieve.
If you exercise patience, you’ll be rewarded. Here’s why:
2. Standing out with a competitive advantage
How many local companies and startups do you know that are actively involved in your community?
Standing out from the competition can be challenging when the marketplace is already crowded.
But companies that demonstrate an obligation to various philanthropic acts have an easier time standing out and making a name for themselves.
There are two sides to this. First, you have a unique competitive advantage outside your business (or product) and you gain free reputation.
What’s not to love?
If you can’t beat your competitors in business, the next best step is to think outside the box.
Are they involved in the community? Do they do charity? Are they environment-friendly with their products and solutions?
Being socially responsible can give you the competitive edge you need to stand out. Plus, it also makes social media marketing for your business a lot easier when you have a lot of good news to report.
Being involved locally gives you a direct word-of-mouth reputation that can be otherwise hard to achieve online.
Sustainability and social responsibility are some of the best ways to extend your exclusivity and added value.
Employees, customers, and even the public, all of them see this as an advantage. And this, in turn, encourages new investors and raises the valuation of your business.
3. It’s the right thing to do
Finally, at the end of the day, being socially responsible is just the right thing to do – it’s a moral obligation.
Putting aside all the countless benefits (from the business side, helping the environment, etc.), we all need to play our part and give back to the communities that provide us with the opportunity to succeed in the first place.
Being socially conscious isn’t only a responsibility all entrepreneurs need to have, it’s just the right thing to do.
Consumers expect companies to deliver outstanding products and services. But even if there was no direct external reward for it – it’s an obligation all of us need to follow for the long-term future.
We only have one planet, and there’s enough harm done to it as is.
On a global scale, economic and security events can have an immediate negative impact on the environment. And investing, developing, and focusing on being environmentally-conscious strengthens all sectors of business.
If that wasn’t a good enough reason, the bottom line is that the benefits are world-wide and ideally, even spread across generations.
Social consciousness isn’t just a marketing stunt to increase your reputation and branding. We need to take social responsibility seriously, and treat it as an attempt to support a good cause.
Show gratitude towards your economy and environment, and you’ll be surely rewarded.
And even if no one’s watching, it’s a moral obligation all of us should be striving for.
Remember, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Author Bio: Uwe is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool or use the free invoice templates to get started. In his free time Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.