If you’re an entrepreneur reading this article: congratulations on making an important step towards the development of your business!
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn’t just a buzzword or an attractive marketing strategy; it’s a component that should be part of your venture from day one. According to a 2018 study by Accenture, more than two-thirds (63%) of consumers prefer to buy products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that is aligned with their own values and will avoid those that don’t.
What does CSR entail? The fundamental and most essential aspect of doing good as a business is ensuring that you do no harm to stakeholders and the communities in which you operate, and this means treating employees fairly, reducing environmental impact, and ensuring the utmost quality and integrity in the delivery of your products and services. We will not be discussing this aspect in detail, as we hope these are things you have already considered and integrated into your business operations.
Another key aspect of CSR for a business, which we will cover in this article, is making a difference in your community. If the advantages of doing good on consumer preferences aren’t convincing enough, a for-good component has many potential benefits for companies, including better brand recognition, better talent acquisition and retention, a positive business reputation, and easier access capital.
How, then, do we set up a business to make a difference? We won’t give you the whole manual, but in this article, we’ll cover three key steps towards adding a for-good component to your business.
1. Know what you stand for
The most important step in beginning any venture is understanding why you’re doing it. A successful CSR strategy is always grounded on a company’s values. So ask yourself—what do you stand for, as a company? As an entrepreneur, what gets you out of bed every day? What is your rallying cry for your colleagues and employees?
For example, are you a company that is determined to develop solutions to improve the lives of people (innovation)? Do you stand to provide equal opportunities for people from all walks of life (diversity)? It’s important to support causes or communities that are aligned with your purpose as a business.
2. Assess what you can contribute
Once you have identified your values, the next step is to assess what you can contribute as an organization. As a company, what do you do best, and what sets you apart from competitors? What excites you and your team the most about what you do? What skills or resources can you share with the community, that others perhaps cannot? These are key aspects to understand in creating a concrete CSR plan.
3. Identify and select potential partners
Now that you know exactly what you can do to make a difference in your community, it’s time to determine who you can partner with. There are many opportunities to help, but it’s important to select partners and projects that are aligned with your organization’s values and skillset. It’s also good to have an understanding of issues that the local community might be facing, and to understand, based on your organization’s skills, how it is that you can help.
For example, if your company specializes in training or education, perhaps you might consider reaching out to organizations that uplift the economically disadvantaged by providing them with the tools and opportunities to make a living. A good way to look for these opportunities would be to reach out to local non-profit organizations or local government units in your area of operations.
While these are just the initial steps towards building the for-good aspect of your business, understanding your values and your best capabilities are key to unlocking the best way your company can make a difference.