The primary purpose of any business is to make a profit, but there is nothing to say that it has to be the only objective. It is perfectly possible, and indeed admirable, for a business to operate successfully while adhering to principles of social responsibility. From encouraging environmentally friendly behaviour by distributing reusable promotional bags to making contributions to local community causes, there are many ways that your company can make a positive difference. The business will benefit too from an improved public image and even cost savings through more efficient use of resources, so there really is no reason not to take action.
Business as a whole is a major culprit in the damage we are all doing to our planet. It is up to business therefore to take a lead in addressing the issue. Analyse your company, looking for areas where you could make a positive environmental change, and then create and implement a policy covering everything from improving recycling to reducing travel. The more comprehensively your look at your business, the easier it will be to make a significant difference with small changes in each area that will not fundamentally alter your operation.
Look after your staff
Being more responsible means treating people, not just the environment, well. The best place to start is with your own staff. Do you do enough to ensure that your employees have a safe and comfortable working environment? Are there opportunities to help them achieve a better work/life balance through ideas such as flexible working arrangements? You may well find that by going the extra mile to improve the lot of your employees, you improve morale, increase efficiency and reduce staff turnover.
Support your local community
If you wish your business to make a positive difference outside the company, one option is to make a charitable donation or provide some support for a good cause. It can be particularly rewarding to get involved with something taking place in the community in which your business is based. You will have the opportunity to see the effects of your donations in action and you will increase the opportunities for your business to provide other non-financial support. For example, if your operate a financial services firm, you might offer to advise a charitable organisation on a pro bono basis, or you could authorise your employees to take an hour or two off from time to time to go and help out in any way they can.
Good deeds beget good deeds — or at least they do if enough people see them happening — so don’t be shy about advertising your ethical credentials. Tell the world about the charitable work you are doing and challenge your competitors to do the same or better. Steer your customers towards reducing consumption of resources by selling reusable green bags and withdrawing the supply of free plastic ones. Be demanding of your suppliers too. Ask them about their ethical credentials and be prepared to choose whether or not to do business with them based on their answers.