As a business owner, and even as a consumer, yourself, you’ve probably heard of social responsibility. More often than not, the word “corporate” comes before it. While it’s true that major corporations take social responsibility seriously, small businesses should make it a priority, too.
The basis of social responsibility as it pertains to a company is that your business should behave ethically and have a special focus on social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues. When you’re a retail business in a certain area, you have the benefit of focusing your social responsibility on your community, rather than spreading it out across the globe like a major corporation.
So, why is social responsibility in business so important, how can you implement it into your regular operations, and how will your retail business benefit from it? Let’s take a closer look at some of those answers, so you can start integrating social responsibility into your business plan.
Why Social Responsibility Matters
When you own a business, especially in one specific community, your underlying goal is always to keep growing, attracting new customers, and making sure your current customers remain loyal. There are a few things that influence customer loyalty, including:
- Emotional dependence
- Positive associations
Many of those factors can and will be determined each time a customer steps into your business and interacts with your employees or has a particular experience. But, current and potential customers also need to know what your brand stands for in order to develop a positive opinion. That’s one of the biggest reasons why social responsibility matters so much.
If you’re only in the business world to make money, customers will quickly catch on.
Now, more than ever, people are passionate about both world and local issues. They want to support businesses that use sustainable practices, ethical labor, and those that pride themselves on their philanthropic values. When your business takes steps to show your consumers that you care about the same things, it can boost your reputation and even give your brand a facelift.
How to Be a More Socially Responsible Business
So, what can you do to make your retail business more socially responsible? When you own a small local business, the possibilities are truly endless. The best part? You can hone in your efforts on your community. That will help your business to leave a lasting mark on your location, and because you can concentrate your efforts, you and your team can end up doing more for the people and places that need it most.
There are plenty of ways in which businesses show social responsibility, even on a small scale. One of the easiest options is to be more hands-on and involved in your community. Try things like:
- Sponsoring local events
- Adopting a highway
- Hosting food/clothing drives
- Cleaning up local parks
- Volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
You can also focus on “behind the scenes” work that utilizes technology. For example, you can show that your business promotes environmental standards and sustainability by making a few changes, and marketing them. Start a recycling program within your business, or focus on only selling sustainable products. When you “greenify” your business, you can update your website and marketing efforts to let your customers know. Not only will it boost your reputation, but you may inspire others to do the same.
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits of being more socially responsible as a business happen both internally and externally.
When you create a company culture of social responsibility, you’ll have to get your employees involved. Thankfully, it’s something they can all get excited about. When your employees feel like they are doing something good for their friends, neighbors, and community, they’re more likely to develop a sense of loyalty to the business. They will take pride in what they do, which can reflect in their work and dedication.
You can even offer incentives for your employees to take part in socially responsible activities. Consider using a time tracker to let your workers log how much community service time they’ve put in outside of work. Holding an in-house competition with prizes for those who do the most is a great way to make sure they stay involved in doing things for others as representatives of your business. You could even assign “social responsibility shifts” a few times a month, where your employees would get paid their standard wage during the workday to go out and do something good for the community.
Social responsibility can also help boost workplace engagement if your employees volunteer together or get involved in socially responsible activities outside of your store. It’s a fantastic way to create a positive workplace environment.
On a business growth level, social responsibility will change the way people see you, for the better. It shows potential customers that your business truly cares about the community you’re in, and you’re dedicated to keeping that community as perfect as possible by helping others.
As more people do their research on both local businesses and international corporations, social responsibility will become more important than ever. So, why not start doing your part now? It’s more than a great marketing tool; it’s a way to show that your business has heart, depth, and lasting power.
Jori Hamilton is a freelance writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects and with over 8 years of professional writing experience, she has taken a particular interest in topics related to Business, Marketing, SEO Best Practices, and Productivity. You can follow Jori on her Twitter and LinkedIn.