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How To Be A Socially Conscious Business

Millennial entrepreneurs increasingly factor in supporting a cause as part of their business plan. Becoming a socially conscious business can be a great business move.  

Originally Published Oct. 19, 2024
Millennial entrepreneurs increasingly factor in supporting a cause as part of their business plan. Statistics demonstrate that becoming a socially conscious business can be a great business move.
A 2014 Nielsen Doing Well by Doing Good survey found that 42% of North American respondents would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to having a positive social and environmental impact.     

Another compelling reason to adopt a social mission for your business is employee retention. Data shows that socially driven startups attract committed talent by way of their mission and values. A Net Impact survey conducted in 2012 showed that 65% of university students have expectations for making a difference socially or environmentally at some point during their employment and 58% would agree to a 15% pay cut to work for a company whose values mimicked their own. Of course, existing employees who are aligned with their employer’s mission and values are likely to be more satisfied.

So what can established businesses do to join in on this trend?

It’s Never Too Late to Make a Difference

Whether you have been in business for 50 years, 15, or one year, you can create an opportunity to be a good corporate citizen in your community. By definition, corporate citizenship involves the social responsibility of businesses and the extent to which they meet legal, ethical, and economic responsibilities, as established by stakeholders. Stakeholders are simply owners, advisers, employees, customers and the community at large. It is likely that small and midsize business owners haven’t needed to do anything to demonstrate any level of interest in the betterment of their community. However, today’s progressive consumers would rather patronize a business that clearly cares about a relevant cause they can relate to rather than a business only interested in profits and revenues.

Choosing a Social Mission

Any business in any industry can adhere to a social mission. However, whatever cause you choose should be closely tied to the vision and mission of your company. For instance, if you own a dog grooming business you may consider supporting a program that deals with pet adoption or an organization that provides pet therapy to sick or elderly people. Connecting your social mission to your business is essential to avoid confusing existing and prospective customers and clients.

Remember, adopting a social mission for your business doesn’t always mean writing a check yourself. In fact, it is best to engage your customers and employees to take part in your socially conscious activities. Have you ever been asked to add a $1 to your bill at the supermarket for a specific charity? That is a perfect example of getting your customers involved while creating subtle awareness that you care. That’s a win-win.

It’s Not About the Money

If you are hung up on giving money or asking your customers to donate, you actually do not have to do either. Having a socially conscious mission is about making a difference above all else. You can do so by simply offering your place of business up to local entrepreneurs or organizations for events at no charge. I have personally benefited from the kindness of local small business leaders who offer extra office space or conference rooms to entrepreneurs because they support independent businesses. If you own a food-related business, consider connecting to a charitable organization who feed the homeless to offer leftover food at the end of the night. That can be a fantastic way to support a social mission around ending hunger. Maybe you have surplus supplies or recyclables that you can donate to needy organizations in which they can use or turn in for cash. The possibilities are endless.

Tell the World

Once you implement your corporate social responsibility program make sure it is not done in a vacuum. Let all of your internal and external stakeholders know what you are up to. Document activities with photos posted to your website and social media. Consider writing a blog post and/or press release as your activities unfold. The biggest mistake businesses make is supporting causes without letting anyone know. That is a wasted public relations opportunity. Don’t get hung up on being grandiose by doing something like renting a billboard on the highway. Keep it simple by adding a short message to the bottom of a customer receipt, invoice, or e-newsletter about your recent efforts to make a difference. Such a gesture will not go unnoticed by loyal customers, clients, and most importantly, your employees.

So what are you waiting for? Get your team together to develop a corporate social responsibility strategy that considers any current efforts and future socially driven opportunities that align with your long-term business goals.

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