This week, on Giving Tuesday, I was invited to speak at the Central Jersey Think Tank about a topic very near and dear to my heart, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for small business. As someone who considers herself a social entrepreneur, who has led a company dedicated to making a difference in society, and who helps clients design giving programs, I was excited to share my thoughts.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility? Corporate social responsibility, also called sustainability, is a company’s voluntary actions to manage its environmental and social impact and increase its positive contribution to society. And it’s not just for corporations. As consumers increasingly seek to do business with businesses doing good, it makes a lot of sense for EVERY business to adopt CSR practices and give back to society.
Let’s look at the numbers.
- A 2015 Study by Harvard University found that companies with strong ratings in CSR (sustainability) significantly outperformed firms with poor ratings.
- A 2016 study by Nielsen revealed that 66% of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
- 68 percent of Lightspeed GMI survey respondents over 35 sought employment at companies publicly recognized for their ethics, and that number rises to 82 percent when it comes to Millennials.
- 70% of millennials say they are willing to work for less pay with an organization who best matches their ethical and social beliefs.
- According to the Net Impact’s What Workers Want report, 45% of employees would take a 15% pay cut for a job that makes a social or environmental impact
- In a Society for Human Resources Management study, companies with strong CSR programs had:
- 55% better morale
- 43% more efficient businesses processes
- 43% stronger public image
- 38% better employee loyalty
- As reported in Forbes, investors feel that there is a shortage of impact-worthy social impact investments. Meaning that if your business is healthy and can prove social impact, there is a large pool of capital waiting to be deployed.
So what does this mean for direct sellers?
Direct sales companies can attract and retain the best corporate talent by giving employees an opportunity to be part of the company’s CSR outreach. Companies are also more likely to attract salespeople, particularly in the all-important millennial generation, but offering a meaningful, ongoing CSR program that is in line with the company’s mission and values. And those salespeople are more likely to find customers that are happy to shop with them, and even pay a premium for products, when the company has a dedicated commitment to its impact on society and the environment.
You have an opportunity at a grassroots level to demonstrate the impact your business and your company can have on society and the environment. Support fundraisers related to your company and personal business mission. Use your business platform to advocate for causes. Keep the environment in mind when shipping and displaying merchandise. And highlight your company’s CSR efforts as well. Not only will you be making a difference in the world, you will also attract more customers and consultants who want to support the causes they believe in with their time and dollars.
Corporate social responsibility is not just about being a do-gooder (although it makes a positive impact.) It’s also exceptionally good for business, and when strategically designed, a CSR program can increase satisfaction and loyalty to your company.
How is your company integrating corporate social responsibility into its business practices? If you are a consultant, what do you do at a small business level to promote sustainability? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!