The recently released 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that societal leadership is now “a core function of business.” The study also revealed that employees are broadly aligned around this expectation. Over 70% of respondents from every company size, region of the country, age group, and virtually every business function—from customer service and operations to finance and IT—expect their employer to be a force for good.
But what does being a socially conscious organization really mean, why does it matter, and what steps can you take to authentically improve your business’s social responsibility standing? Let’s explore.
Socially conscious businesses are ones that have a purpose beyond profit. Their overarching strategies aren’t informed solely by top and bottom-line revenue growth. They’re invested in the communities in which they operate and are committed to driving positive social and environmental change.
Let’s take a closer look at the various types of corporate social responsibility:
Environmental responsibility involves behaving in a manner that shows consideration for the natural environment. Examples of environmentally responsible practices in a business include:
Ethically responsible businesses operate in an honest, transparent, and ethical manner towards their employees, investors, suppliers, and customers. There are many ways to demonstrate ethical responsibility, such as offering employees liveable wages and never purchasing or using products that are associated with child labor.
Philanthropic responsibility is about making an active effort to uplift society and communities. Examples of philanthropic behavior include donating a portion of the company’s profits to charitable organizations and non-profits.
Economic responsibility involves always making sure that, as a business, you make all your financial decisions in ways that support the areas listed above.
The days when social responsibility was reserved for non-profit organizations and volunteers are long gone. One reason is that employees (especially millennials and Gen Z) have a keen eye for responsible business practices, particularly when it comes to the environment. A Nielsen poll revealed that 85% of millennials and 80% of Gen Z say environmental responsibility is the most important factor they consider when evaluating potential employers.
The study also supported the notion that consumers are more inclined to choose brands that they believe are committed to sustainable and ethical business practices – even if the price of their products and services is higher than their competitors. Clearly, socially responsible companies have a differentiating edge.
Now that we’ve established why it makes business sense to elevate corporate social responsibility to the top of the boardroom agenda, let’s consider some approaches and actions you can take to move your organization forward.
Effective social responsibility starts with a plan. What does your business stand for? Where are there opportunities to make a difference in your local community? It’s a good idea to involve your employees in your planning – they’ll be more inclined to support and participate in your CSR program if they’ve been involved in establishing the direction and their voices have been heard. Once you’ve established the scope of your program, set ambitious yet realistic goals.
There’s a good chance that there are certain people in your business that are particularly passionate about social responsibility. Given that you want your program to be long-lasting and impactful, it’s a good idea to establish a dedicated CSR committee to ensure you sustain your momentum.
There are a number of ways to demonstrate your commitment to operating in an environmentally responsible manner. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
Making just a few small changes to your work environment can make a large difference.
Social consciousness starts from within. Your employees are your most valuable asset, so treat them fairly and ethically. Here are some ways to do so:
Diverse organizations actively seek out and welcome employees from all backgrounds and walks of life. Moreover, they adopt a zero-tolerance policy to any kind of discriminatory behavior in their workplaces based on:
Part of embracing workplace equality and diversity involves paying close attention to your recruitment and selection policies and procedures. Look at the language you use in your job postings and application forms to ensure they don’t include any form of unconscious bias. During the hiring process, make sure that interviews include a diverse cross-section of interviewees.
Being charitable makes most people feel satisfied and happy. So, encourage your employees to participate in local causes. Volunteerism within an organization brings together people from different parts of the business and encourages teamwork, which, in turn, leads to greater levels of internal cooperation and teamwork.
Employees often report learning new skills from their volunteering experiences, which can lead to better on-the-job performance. So, why not give your employee paid time off to assist at your local school, help out at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or clean up a local park?
A company code of ethics will set out the expected attitudes and behaviors that you expect your employees to uphold and demonstrate. Be sure to involve stakeholders from all parts and levels of the organization when developing your ethics code and communicate it widely and regularly.
Make sure that all your suppliers understand and abide by your expectations of socially responsible behavior with respect to issues such as fair pricing, labor practices, and environmental impact.
There’s no reason you have to travel your CSR journey alone. To increase your chances of success and maximize your impact, consider partnering with local and global stakeholders. Perhaps you could work collaboratively with charity leaders, local recycling companies, or council members.
There are several ways to monitor and measure your CSR progress. For example, how have you managed to reduce your carbon footprint? How many employees participated in volunteering opportunities, and how many people’s lives were touched by their efforts?
Today, consumers don’t just expect businesses to be socially responsible, transparent, ethical, and inclusive – they demand it. But a final word of caution: never use your CSR program as a marketing tool. Any efforts that aren’t authentic and sustained are likely to backfire. Employees and customers will react positively to businesses that embrace long-term social consciousness.
As we’ve explored, there are many ways to become a socially responsible company. At Payactiv, we help businesses with one of the most critical elements of social consciousness – looking after their people.
Payactiv is the partner of choice for businesses seeking to help their people participate fully in both work and life. Our all-in-one Livelihood benefits platform takes a holistic approach to improving financial wellness and increasing employee satisfaction. Our attractive, flexible workforce rewards and benefits cost nothing to your company but deliver immense value to your employees.
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