You often read about the large donations major companies make to charities, their commitment to environmentally sustainable operations, or other acts that demonstrate their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Though their clout and resources may make headlines, a small business can do just as much to improve the quality of their communities and their world.
In some ways, crafting and implementing a CSR philosophy for a small business is easier because there are fewer stakeholders to appease, and you have the flexibility to adopt a strategy that aligns ideally with your business goals. CSR also has a ripple effect among customers who want to do business with socially responsible firms, and employees who are willing to give extra effort for a good cause.
Here are some ways to make CSR an integral part of your small business practices:
Donate Money and or Time to the Community. Some of the best opportunities for making a difference are right outside your door. “Adopt” a local charity or cause, and find out what they’re needs are. Schools are another good partner, as they are often in need of tutors, resources for in-class or extra-curricular activities, or expert advisors for various special interest groups.
Choose Your Suppliers Carefully. Do they use high levels of recycled content in their products, or source materials from sustainable producers? Have there been any issues with fair treatment of employees or unethical practices? And what are their CSR initiatives? Supporting a business that promotes causes you believe enhances their ability to make a difference as well.
Communicate, inside… If you have employees, find out what causes interest them. You may learn of a local family that needs help dealing with a severe illness, or was displaced by a fire or flood. Food drives or volunteering at local events is also a good way to get employees engaged in your CSR strategy.
…and out. Though making a difference is sufficient reward for being socially responsible, be sure to share what you’re doing with customers and colleagues. Notify local media of your involvement in an event or achievement of a milestone (e.g., 1 millionth pound of paper recycled), and promote them on your own company website, Facebook fan page, and e-newsletters. Making presentations about your CSR program to professional groups is another way to communicate your efforts, and enlist more participants as well.
Another great source for small business expertise is SCORE “For the Life of Your Business.” SCORE is a non-profit organization of more than 12,000 volunteers who provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners.
To learn more about the local chapters of SCORE, visit www.thevillagesocala.score.org or www.lakesumter.score.org