6 Tips On How to Be a More Socially Conscious Small Business

A woman and two children planting trees

As a small business owner juggling multiple roles, it can be challenging to dedicate your limited resources to social responsibility. From finding and retaining top talent for your organisation, to ensuring your customers are satisfied, to keeping up to date with trends in your industry, sometimes despite the best intentions, putting the time to create a more socially conscious small business can start falling further down the to-do list.

87% of Australians think businesses have a responsibility to do social good.

But with 87% of Australians believing that businesses have a responsibility to do social good, ensuring your company is socially responsible can be beneficial for your business in numerous ways. For example, with 21%1 of job seekers choose to apply for an open role because the company’s mission resonated with their values, so incorporating social responsibility into your organisation can potentially help attract great candidates to your small business. Not to mention it can help increase customer loyalty and build a positive brand for your business.

In 2018, 15% of employees participated in volunteering activities – up from 3.7% in 2006 ­– and contributed more than one million hours of service to the community. But, is there a way to create a more socially responsible small business with limited resources and time? Fortunately, yes! To help you get a jumpstart, we’ve gathered six tips on how you can start practising social responsibility at your small business today.

1. Focus your efforts on a few social causes

Despite our best efforts, it’s not possible to give our 100% to every social cause out there. As a result, choose a few that resonate with your company’s mission, brand and employees. This way you can ensure you won’t be overwhelming your team in your efforts to be a more socially responsible small business and you will have the opportunity to dedicate your resources to a cause that really matters to you and your business.

2. Make it someone’s priority

One of the biggest reasons why social initiatives often get pushed down the to-do list is because they’re delegated to employees who already have a full plate of responsibilities. Or small business owners who are already juggling multiple roles decide to take the lead. To ensure your efforts of being a more socially conscious small business don’t get deferred, it’s best to try to hire someone who will be solely responsible for your company’s social initiatives.

If hiring a new employee isn’t possible at this stage, try to appoint two or three people to help with the workload.

3. Implement a volunteering program

Once you have chosen the social causes your business will be aligned with, and the employee(s) in charge of the initiatives, it’s time to implement programs that your employees can participate in. For example, some companies set aside volunteering days throughout the year where everyone in the business will spend the day volunteering together at local charities. Volunteering as a team can be a great way for your employees to bond with each other and with your business’ social initiatives, while at the same time making an impact in the community.

If organising volunteering days for the entire company is challenging, you can also offer volunteer time off (VTO). At Thrive PR, employees get one day a year of company time to spend volunteering for a cause of their choice, an investment equivalent of around $100,000 of company time.

4. Incorporate sustainability into the everyday running of the business

58% of Australians believe businesses have a responsibility to prevent environmental damage

With 58% of Australians believing that businesses have a responsibility to prevent environmental damage, it’s important to also adopt sustainable practices in your efforts to be a more socially conscious small business. Ensuring your organisation is as environmentally friendly as possible can bring many benefits to your business, employees and the world.

For example, by installing eco-friendly lights or going 100% paperless, you’re not only saving on bills, but you’re also helping to reduce your business’ carbon footprint. Other initiatives you can implement include adding more recycling bins, implementing a composting facility, adding plants to the office, and choosing energy efficient products when purchasing new technology.

5. Inform employees of your initiatives and encourage them to participate

To ensure your organisation is truly becoming a more socially conscious small business, it’s important to ingrain your social initiatives into your everyday operations. As a result, take the time to educate your employees of the social causes your business is aligned with and regularly encourage them to participate. Whether it’s creating new meetings to discuss your social initiatives, including updates into your regular company meetings, or simply sending out a company-wide email, make sure everyone at the organisation is aware of the issues you are addressing and how they can be more involved.

6. Keep the ball rolling

Unfortunately, for any organisation, it can be difficult to keep the ball rolling on your social causes. But it’s important to remember that to create a more socially conscious small business, your initiatives should be ongoing. Remember to continuously remind your employees of the social causes at your organisation, and encourage them to participate. It could be beneficial to create a schedule at the beginning of each year of all the activities you and your employees will be participating in. Even better, create events in everyone’s online calendars to ensure they’re not forgotten.

Social responsibility is now more important than ever for businesses, employees and customers across the nation. And while as a smaller company it can be difficult to set aside the time and resources to create a more socially conscious small business, it does mean you have more flexibility and authority to make changes across your organisation.

Whether you start small or decide to dedicate months to your social causes, any contributions your small business can make will not only help your company be more socially responsible, but also make a strong impact in your community, to your employees and the world.

1Methodology: This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed, among 500 Australian job seekers in June-July 2016.

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