Do Businesses Have Social Responsibilities?
It’s no secret that consumers are willing to spend more on products and services offered by businesses that commit to social value over those that don’t. Out of 66% of global respondents, 50% of them said they would invest more in business that showcases key sustainability factors, such as products being made from fresh, natural, and/or organic ingredients, a company that is environmentally friendly, and/or a company that is known for its commitment to social value.
It is up to a company to set its social standards and abide by them. Throughout this article, you will be able to understand the different social obligations worth exploring as a business and the benefits of implementing social responsibilities.
What Is Social Responsibility?
Social responsibility describes the premise that businesses are obligated not only to serve customers and clients, but the community or even the planet as well. It is the idea that profitability should not come at the expense of public welfare; that corporations and companies should do good for the world in the course of doing business, and find ways to give back when possible.
This might look like volunteerism, engaging in sustainability initiatives, or many other efforts depending on the business and industry in question. The trend of sustainability and social responsibility has grown so much that businesses and organizations are beginning to see the positive impact — implementing changes into their daily operations.
These social implementations are called corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR happens when businesses, corporations, and organizations adopt sustainable and socially accountable methods and implement them in their daily operations.
Examples of Businesses Engaging in CSR Initiatives
The type of CSR a company adopts will vary based on the size, industry, location, and other specific features of the business. Listed below are CSR examples that businesses and corporations may decide to prioritize to meet their social needs.
Environmental activism from a business perspective happens when a company leader makes decisions on behalf of the company that will result in the protection or conservation of the natural environment. One way that a business can implement environmental activism in their workplace is by creating eco-friendly marketing tactics. These tactics include, but aren’t limited to, ditching paper advertising and investing in digital marketing instead.
Digital-centric marketing methods, such as online lead generation and other digital marketing initiatives, are a great, eco-friendly way to market your business and find new clients without leaving a negative impact on the environment around you through physical advertising collateral like signs, flyers, or even direct mailing campaigns that generate junk mail.
Treating employees fairly is a concept that some would think is common sense. Unfortunately, some companies that fail to implement this type of CSR — also known as ethical labor — especially those with international locations and varying labor laws. Poor examples of ethical labor would be to employ underaged employees, under-compensated workers, abuse of power, and forcing employees to work in hazardous working conditions.
Applying ethical practices includes caring about the welfare of employees, not discriminating against age, gender, race, or religion, giving equal pay for equal work, and ensuring that employees are capable and well-educated to perform the task at hand.
Philanthropy is “goodwill to fellow members of the human race, especially active effort to promote human welfare.” Fortunately, for those who wish to be more socially responsible, there are many acts of philanthropic services to choose from for your business.
Popular examples of philanthropy in business include:
- Donating grants, goods, and/or services;
- Employee gift programs;
- Volunteer programs.
Another way to be philanthropic is by offering pro bono (free) work to those who may not be able to afford the typical cost of services — a practice familiar to lawyers and other legal professionals.
Engaging with your community and making your business known (especially if you’re known for your philanthropic contributions to your community) is beneficial because not only are you showing that your business is an active part of the community and building your brand, but it may also ultimately contribute to your lead funnel and support lead generation by helping spread name recognition and brand awareness without explicit advertising or promotional underwriting.
Similar to philanthropic activities, there are many ways to volunteer as a business. The types of projects you volunteer your business to take part in may vary drastically — everything from local to international tasks. Examples of local tasks that are simple for businesses to take part in include:
- Painting/repairing the exterior of buildings;
- Raking up leaves for those who need assistance;
- Volunteering at the local homeless shelter.
As far as international business volunteer examples, disaster relief is one that tends to be the most common. Other examples would be educational missions and offering medical/dental services to those in need.
The Importance of Social Responsibility in Business
Being socially responsible as an individual provides a great sense of pride and accomplishment. These feelings can be exponentially higher when a business as a whole, rather than a single employee, does its part to contribute back to society.
Social responsibility is important for businesses for various reasons. Not only can it assist with improving its reputation, but it can also help to improve customer relations and client retention, reduce carbon footprints, and make a difference in the surrounding community. These business’s positive actions may even cause them to be seen as a competitor to other businesses. It can also help to see that your business values its customers, clients, and employees and is truly there to make a positive impact.
Criticisms of Corporate Social Responsibility
Although CSR is proven to have numerous benefits, there are criticisms made of those who engage their business in social responsibilities. For instance, greenwashing. Some skeptics wonder if companies are as eco-friendly as they claim to be. Instead, they are deceiving their consumers into believing their goods and services are environmentally friendly — even if they aren’t, or the eco-friendly contributions are extremely minute.
Other examples of criticisms of CSR include shareholder resistance, lack of funds to support costs associated with CSR, and even the inability to be socially responsible as an entire entity, rather than an individual.
Business owners need to research what social responsibilities are fitting for their company. Making an impact on your community doesn’t take much — you can donate grants, or donate your time. No matter what the task is, your business will be appreciated for its contribution.
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