For the sake of the planet and people who live in it, all businesses should be aiming to become more socially conscious. But it’s not just philanthropic. Talking about how you believe in social causes can help give you the edge on your competitors. Many modern consumers – especially millennials – get a feel-good factor when they shop with eco-conscious brands. And that could help you fatten your margins.
In this post, we take a look at some of the practical strategies you can use to become more socially conscious. Don’t worry: even if you’re a dye-in-the-wool traditional executive, you’ll find something here you can use to your advantage.
Collaborate With Well-Known Charitable And Change-Making Organizations
Some well-known brands like to go it alone when it comes to social responsibility and consciousness. But a lot of smaller companies can struggle to gain traction. There’s so much noise out there that getting heard is just about impossible.
That’s why many executives simply join forces with existing charities. For example, as part of The Beachbody Company social responsibility drive, the brand is working with Feeding America, RainCatcher, American Red Cross, IJM and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The way this type of effort works is unbelievably simple. You start by approaching a charity that is doing work you and your customers care about. You then offer to sponsor them in return for including your branding in their campaigns and becoming a part of the process. Most charities are desperate for any money they can get, so they will gladly oblige. You get to do good work in the world while also elevating your brand above your rivals. Now that’s real capital!
Make Your Operations More Sustainable
Businesses also need to start moving towards more sustainable modes of operation now if they want healthy and vibrant markets to sell to in years to come. Old-fashioned greed-driven capitalism worked for a long time and helped humanity emerge from medieval drudgery. But it won’t continue to work in the 21st century as the population grows and everyone seeks Western standards of living. Firms need to take a step back and really think about whether they are operating in a way that the Earth could support for a thousand years.
If the concept of sustainability sounds a little scary to you, don’t worry. It’s actually far simpler than you think. You could start by:
- Creating energy-efficient policies
- Reducing of the use of paper and increase in electronic messaging
- Incorporating recycling programs into your business processes
- Training employees on how to use fewer resources
- Encouraging carpooling and use of public transport where available
- Reducing production of products that cause damage to the environment
Encourage Employees To Volunteer
Here’s another incredible way for you to make your business more socially conscious: encourage employees to volunteer for good causes.
Volunteering is rewarding for both the individual and business as a whole. The employee feels like they are doing something meaningful and worthwhile with their time. And the brand benefits too through association with good causes.
Volunteering can also provide additional team building benefits. Employees get to experience each others’ company in different contexts. And that can bring them closer together when they return to the office.
You can also add volunteering days as part of your weekly schedule. This way, employees don’t feel like they have to give up any additional time. For instance, you could allocate one Friday afternoon per month to helping out in a soup kitchen.
Make Direct Contributions
Corporations can sometimes make a lot of money – far more than their owners could ever reasonably want or use. That’s why a lot of firms now make direct contributions to charities of their choice. Donating money helps them keep their daily operations moving, pay staff wages and provide assistance on the ground.
How much money you can provide depends on your particular financial circumstances. Smaller enterprises often have to reinvest all their profits to remain competitive. But if you have an established business, you could afford to be generous. Charities will usually public announce their benefactors as a sign of recognition, and highlight brands who’ve helped them in the past.
How you approach the matter of publicity, therefore, is entirely your choice. Perhaps the best option is to link what you’re doing to the action of customers. For example, you could announce that you’re donating 10 cents from every dollar spent to a good cause. This way, you can elevate your brand while also making it seem as though your customers are the ones actually donating to the charity.
Create A Social Responsibility Team
Creating a social responsibility team seems like a chore, but it is actually a great way to improve the performance of your enterprise and its brand image. It turns out that companies that take sustainability and working conditions seriously tend to outperform their rivals in the long-run. Thus, the more you can operate your business in harmony with others and the planet, the more successful it will become.
Creating a social responsibility team is easier than you might think. You probably already have some people in mind who would fit the role perfectly. Doubtless, there are individuals in your organization who want to assist your firm in having a more positive impact on society.
So what are the critical features of an in-house social responsibility team?
- Great reporting: If you’re going to spend money creating a social responsibility team in your business, you need it to perform. So make sure that when you set it up, you put in place reporting methodologies that allow you to keep track of progress
- Create a schedule: You’ll also need to create an actionable list of tasks you want employees to complete as part of their roles. This way, you can clearly define the work you want to do and keep people productive.
- Launch campaigns: Social responsibility units will also require the authority to launch awareness drives and campaigns, according to your requirements.
- Passionate: Lastly, any team you choose should comprise people who are passionate about the issues involved. These should be individuals who are empathetic and believe in helping others.
As an executive, you can sometimes assume that your motivations are the same as your employees. But that’s not always the case. They may not have the same level of knowledge as you do. And that could mean that they are acting in ways that aren’t sustainable.
The key to building a socially conscious business is to educate workers from the ground up. When you provide them with information and authority, they can take decisions that align with your stated company ethos. Critically, they need to understand the issues your enterprise wants to address and how to do it.
For IT staff, for instance, that could mean getting rid of printers and moving to the cloud. For sales teams, that could involve sending invoices via email, not the post – you get the picture.
Set SMART Goals
Just stating that you want your brand to become more socially conscious won’t make a difference to how it operates. What you need are SMART goals.
Start by creating a list of things you’d like your enterprise to achieve over various time scales. In the next six months, for instance, you might want to eliminate all paper correspondence and replace it with digital communication instead.
Any objectives you set should:
- Focus on a specific area of concern
- Complement your natural expertise as a business
- Be something that your customers feel passionate about
If you’re able to hit all three of these criteria, your goals will assist your business and improve your brand. Always make sure that any goals you set are measurable, time-limited and realistic. Don’t shoot for the moon if you haven’t yet travelled to the next village.
Align Your Company Around A Social Mission
All companies have a mission statement – something they want to achieve in the fullness of time.
There are all sorts of examples of brands coming up with incredible mission statements. For instance, SpaceX’s mission is to make humanity a multi-planet species. Google’s mission is to provide information to people wherever they go in the world.
Notice that these missions are inherently social. These companies aren’t just doing things for private profit (though that’s a necessary part of it). Instead, they picked missions that would benefit the entire community.
When it comes to creating a social mission, avoid being overly vague. You don’t want to come off as wishy washy. Try instead to actively focus on a particular area to improve. So, for instance, if you’re a food brand, your mission might be to eliminate hunger in a particular country. Or, if you are a technology company, your mission might be to eliminate wasteful practices in a specific industry.
When creating a mission statement, keep it short and simple. So it could be something like, “eliminate hunger in Malawi” or “stop diesel usage in the car industry.”
Once your brand becomes more socially conscious, you’ll find that consumers will flock to you.