Do you run a business that cares about its community and the impact it has on the environment? I'm not trying to sound like a hippy here or the EPA, but as a business owner, you can't escape the fact that your business -- no matter how big or small -- has a profound impact on the world around it.
There's a term for this in the business and marketing world: social responsibility. A basic definition of this term, as defined by Entrepreneur.com, is "Acting with concern and sensitivity, aware of the impact of your actions on others, particularly the disadvantaged."
Lots of businesses attempt to show they have social responsibility by bragging about their natural and organic products, free from harmful chemicals that can damage both the person using it and the environment. And while natural and organic products are a fantastic way to show off your social responsibility, there's much more that can be done by businesses to practice this philosophy. This can be in the form of using a portion of profits to benefit the needy, such as homeless people, local food shelters, families who need money for important medical procedures, or even donating to organizations dedicated to finding cures for infectious diseases. Companies have also committed themselves to only using products that are deemed cruelty-free (ones that aren't tested on animals or cause harm to animals), which is especially huge in the beauty and skin care industry.
If you're still not feeling the necessity of thinking about your company's social responsibility, then here are a few, more business-minded reasons, to consider this practice.
Which would you rather shop at: a clothing store that uses sweatshops and foreign labor that barely pays its workers a living wage, or a clothing store that gives workers in its manufacturing division fair wages in a safe workplace environment? Hopefully, you chose the latter, because that's what your customers care about as well. They're more likely to buy from you if they trust your social responsibility and ethics. Just ask Volkswagen.
How many companies can you think of off the top of your head that are visibly socially responsible? I'm guessing not many. This gives any company that decides to start being transparent with the way they're socially responsibly a leg up on the competition.
Nothing's more important than the happiness of your customers; unless it's the happiness of your employees. They're the ones that make your business possible! In fact, in a 2012 study by nonprofit company Net Impact, 53 percent of employees said that the key to their happiness is knowing they're making an impact through their company. You can be sure that this number has increased in the past three years.
You're not only making an impact in today's world by practicing social responsibility, you're also making a potentially profound and long-lasting impact on the way companies in the future will do business. Like President Abraham Lincoln once said, "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."
Social media makes spreading a message easier than it's ever been. Thanks to its wide reach, and massive audience, brands can use social media to bring awareness to key issues that they feel passionate about. Coca-Cola did this in 2014, with its PlantBottle campaign and video. It received a 28% engagement rate with more than a half a million views in five days. When customers see your company advocating for important issues on their social feeds, they're more likely to engage with your brand and be a brand advocate in the future.
Social responsibility matters, and your company should be paying attention to how it affects the way people perceive it!
Contributor Caleb Hennington is a 23-year-old writer, who manages the Atwill Media and FGmarket blogs. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
When not writing, Caleb enjoys camping, running, collecting comic books, and binge-watching shows on Netflix.