How to Make a Social Impact without Sacrificing Profits
For-profit companies are judged primarily on their financial successes, but social responsibility is a key component in attracting consumers and recruiting talented workers. Here’s how you, as a leader, can marry financial success and social responsibility:
1. Connect the dots.
Identify ways in which you can connect the business to social aspects. Ask yourself and your employees, when the going gets tough, what gets you going? Beyond doing your job, what does the company stand for? Who is using its products? What effects are you having on society or on consumers who use your products? How can you live those ideals more fully as an organization? What contributions are you already making, and how can you deepen that impact?
Connect your mission with every single person on your team to create a shared vision and purpose to define why you are coming to work every day. By inviting employees into this conversation, you build a socially conscious mentality that radiates from every level of the organization.
2. Empower employees.
Passion is a key driver for success. How can you ensure your team is engaged and firing on all cylinders? That is how you create a competitive advantage for solving big problems.
Smaller companies may not have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) department, but you can still align your company’s social responsibility with employees’ everyday experiences. Solicit feedback, including criticism, about how you can improve possibilities for them to engage in efforts aimed at boosting employee social responsibility. Reward those who get involved in CSR campaigns and who help promote ethical, socially conscious behavior in the workplace.
Most importantly, hire people who are passionate about corporate social responsibility (CSR). Acumen, a nonprofit investment fund, recruits candidates who are aligned with the organization’s values and ideals by asking them for thoughts on CSR and how the company could do better. Applicants who come prepared with ideas are the ones you want on your team.
A toxic group of people can destroy morale, but an engaged group can build momentum around key company initiatives. If you empower employees to make decisions, solve problems, and work on projects that matter to them, they will build something amazing.
3. Engage in socially responsible team activities.
Designate service days to take group action on an issue that someone on your team is passionate about. Clean-up projects stimulate environmental awareness and encourage teamwork and collaboration. Raising funds via marathons promotes health and wellness and helps people in need. Even simple things like energy-saving or recycling programs at the office can get employees into the mindset.
In a U.K. study on volunteering, correlations were discovered between volunteering and overall better peer and family engagement, as well as greater confidence in social settings. Because a harmonious workforce is more productive, service projects make good business sense. They also offer great opportunities for natural leaders to emerge.
Use service days to showcase your team’s skills for a good cause. If you run a marketing agency, for example, you could offer to run a pro-bono campaign for a local nonprofit. Such efforts garner goodwill in the community and keep your services top of mind.
Social responsibility doesn’t have to happen at the expense of sound business decisions or smart investments. As a company leader, you should understand how the work you do affects the areas around which your business is based. Business growth and social impact don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
Will you help create jobs? Positively affect the environment? Such outcomes aren’t just good for the community; they’re also good for business. So start thinking about how you can expand and fine-tune your operations to incorporate more meaningful initiatives.
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