Social responsibility, described as an ethical framework used by individuals or organizations to act ethically towards the environment and society, is a major contributing factor towards high employee satisfaction, loyal client relationships, and strong talent acquisition. Why? Simply put, no one wants to put their support behind a company that treats the world and its people as a means to an end.
Though some companies still manage to attain levels of success with performative acts of social responsibility that result in no real action or benefit, the majority of companies have found that their pseudo-social responsibility efforts have been seen through by their employees, their clients, and practically anyone else who has access to the internet. Whether it be via Glassdoor, LinkedIn, or even Tik Tok, the world is constantly watching the actions of corporations and has had no qualms as of late to criticizing those who act unethically or selfishly.
For instance, consider the Kellog employees’ weeks-long strike that began over the delay in new contracts, which would have included better pay and benefits for employees. (Perhaps Kellogs should have read our article on contract renegotiations.) The internet took to arms against Kellog, supporting the striking workers. So much so, in fact, that Kellog shares dropped by 3%, according to this Reuters article.
Ethical business practices have always been a “priority” for some companies. However, the bare minimum is no longer enough. Employees especially are expecting more from their employers, and it certainly shows. At the time of the Great Resignation, a record-breaking 4.5 million employees either quit or left their jobs in November, according to The Washington Post.
Heading into 2022, we are still seeing the effects of this movement on the workforce along with the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping sick employees at home. Though some of these obstacles may be well out of the control of you and your human resources team, there is still work that can be done. Here are a few steps to incorporate social responsibility practices into your workplace.
1. Focus on the mission, not the money
Let’s start with the obvious: live up to the company mission you claim to represent. Company mission statements should mean something more than a pretty paragraph that is buried somewhere deep on your company website.
Company mission statements are also a great starting point for incorporating social responsibility practices into your workplace. While you may not have been responsible for developing that statement, you should be taking it upon yourself to align your team and your employees’ work to support that mission.
Of course, that mission statement may mean something to you and the employees, but until it means something at the top, it may not show in your corporation’s actions. Our article on company culture should help you convince management of its importance.
2. Learn the priorities of your employees and make them your priorities
Employees feel valued by a company that listens to their needs and acts on them. (We wrote an article on helping employees feel heard too.) While the company mission works well as a starting point, you should not stop your social responsibility efforts there. Once your team is reminded of the company mission and has already begun acting on it, the next step is incorporating the values of your employees into your company values.
Gather this information in whatever manner your team sees fit, but once you have it, you must act on it. Though it can be difficult to anticipate what some of these values may be, here are some common ones you may want to anticipate to help prepare your company to act:
- Environmental sustainability
- Social justice
- Diversity and equal opportunity
- Charity and community service
3. Do good
It cannot be said in a simpler way: do good. Give your employees fair wages and benefits. Donate portions of your proceeds to charity. Have your organization speak out against unfair practices. Decrease your carbon footprint. Volunteer your team at a local shelter. Do the right thing where you can and speak out if your company isn’t.
Incorporating social responsibility into your company’s practices should not be an uphill battle. A common misconception about ethical business practices is that they are not profitable, which is sometimes why upper management shies away from them. This concept is entirely false. If anything, social responsibility practices and positive company actions can actually bring in more profit if done correctly.
In fact, NPR reported that 90% of the largest 250 U.S. companies spend billions of dollars on social responsibility programs and publish extensive reports on the matter. In short, it pays to do the right thing. And even if it didn’t, that is no excuse for not incorporating social responsibility where you can. Hopefully, this article has made it a bit easier for you and your team to accomplish this feat.
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