Incorporating Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR) is a noble idea which most business owners take seriously. To start a CSR project, you can identify needs in your community and develop a project around that need. For example, it can be the provision of social amenities or promotion of environmentally sustainable projects.
We asked entrepreneurs how they’re incorporating CSR into their businesses and here’s what they had to say;
#1- Empowering those around us
We started our company out of a need to survive, but we’ve built it based on a mission not only to help others survive, but to prosper. In fact, we view ourselves as a mission with a business, rather than a business with a mission. Because of that, our purpose – to empower people to live more beautiful lives – sits at the center of everything we do as company and compels us to keep community at our core. This spirit of purpose and empowering those around us led to our purpose-driven business model called Community Commerce, which equips underserved people and communities with access to the opportunities and resources that enable them to create lasting value for themselves and others. It results in an ability to build stronger, self-sustaining communities and enterprises. This has been our business model since we began in Harlem 25 years ago providing high-quality goods that were not previously available to underserved store owners and other street vendors. As our business has grown, so have our Community Commerce focus and impact. For example, through our women’s empowerment pillars of Entrepreneurship, Education & Equity – or as we call it, WE3, Community Commerce now invests in underserved women in each of these areas via supplier partnerships, fellowships, scholarships, mentorships and other resources.
Thanks to Richelieu Dennis, Sundial Brands!
#2-Using an app
Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for large companies – it’s becoming a requirement for every business that wants to build lasting customer loyalty amongst today’s mission-drive consumer base. Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever from small businesses to replicate the successes of some of the most successful mission-driven companies (i.e. Patagonia, Warby Parker) and seamlessly incorporate social impact into their business and cost-effectively, enabling businesses to grow through giving and change the world. Most small business owners think they don’t have the means or resources to effectively integrate a social impact into their business. They don’t believe they have the time, the people, the budgets, or the technology to make it easy and fortunately, that is no longer true. Let’s take a look at Shopify, for example, where the award-winning app Give & Grow, by my company Pledgeling, enables any merchant to integrate a charitable donation into any transaction in less than 5 minutes & share the real-time impact with their customers. With more than a thousand businesses using the app since its launch in the Shopify Marketplace only a few months ago, they’re proving how easy and effective it is for an e-commerce business of any size to grow through giving.
Thanks to James Citron, Pledgeling!
#3- Incorporating social impact into the production process
At Mother Erth we’ve found that by being thoughtful about how we produce our products and who we choose to hire we are able to have a significant social impact without significantly increasing our production costs. In our case, our products are handmade, and we hire only artisan mothers in developing countries in their creation. By doing this we are able to improve the education and nutrition of her children significantly since in many developing countries a mother’s wages are much more likely to go directly towards their children. This also then reduces their reliance on handouts and gives them a hand up to build a sustainable living and valuable skill set.
Thanks to Daniel Scott, Mother Erth!
#4- Donating toothbrushes
Corporate social responsibility is built into who we are at Brush Up Club.. For every 10 new members, we donate a toothbrush to a child in need in the USA through our partner, America’s ToothFairy. This is critical because for millions of American children oral care can be impossible to find. One of our CSR partners told us a heartbreaking story about kids who cheered for toothbrushes the way more privileged children would shout for candy.
Thanks to Evan J. Zimmerman, Brush Up Club!
#5- Simple model
Our model is simple. We pick up old electronics from businesses and recycle them so that their components can be repurposed. When our customers dispose of their electronics with us, they are acting in a corporately responsible manner. However, for us, that is not enough as we want to make sure that our company is also incorporating CSR into its day-to-day. To that end, every time we pick up a load of e-waste, we plant a tree in partnership with Forest Recovery Canada. To date, we’ve planted more than 3,000 trees. We’re excited to support this type of green initiative because it directly helps with carbon reduction and allows us to participate in the betterment of our community.
Thanks to Clayton Miller, Revolution!
#6- Employee volunteering
CSR is usually geared towards companies with an environmental impact, companies with huge budgets, or those with an influence that’s great enough to enact change. But small businesses can make a difference too! This year, we enacted a policy for all of our team. Now, our employees get one day off, paid, to volunteer in the community. This volunteer work is not to be self-promotional, and they get to choose the cause of their choice. We are, however, holding them accountable to the day off being for volunteer work, not just a day off at home. It’s a small thing, but I believe it can make a big difference in promoting a culture of community responsibility and support in our small business (and hopefully spread to our partners as well!).
Thanks to Josh Rubin, Post Modern Marketing!
#7- Servant leadership approach
Social responsibility is a big part of the overall servant leadership approach that my team and I incorporated, soon after I purchased Datron World Communications in 2004. With studies showing that upwards of 50 percent employees are disengaged, and more employees are seeking real purpose in their jobs, the Datron Charitable Fund serves others while helping Datron. A manufacturer of radio communications equipment for military and security personnel, Datron supports the charity fund with 10 percent of its quarterly operating profits. What sets this fund apart is that Datron’s 100+ employees decide where the money goes. Since its creation in 2005, more than $15 million has been contributed to charities all over the world. This gives employees a direct hand in improving lives through organizations that mean a lot to them. With the Datron Charitable Fund playing a key role, the company has experienced improvement in voluntary turnover, averaging 5 percent over last six years, and trust in leadership has increased 17 percent in the last five years. Last year, trust within the leadership team itself was a record 100%. As a result, the bottom line also has benefited: From 2005-2011, the company grew from a $10 million company to a $200 million company.
Thanks to Art Barter, Datron World Communications!