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4 Ways That Your Business Can Make Waves With Social Impact

No matter the size of your business, it can have a social impact in the communities that you serve. Maximizing social impact is a good idea for the bottom line. It can raise the company’s visibility and ensure future sustainability by creating a favorable business climate. The bonus? It always feels good to do good, build connections and have a net positive effect.However, for most businesses, none of this happens by accident. In an effort to ensure profitability, it can be easy to forget how important every business is to its employees as well as to the community and society at large. And it’s not just the responsibility of large corporations. Small businesses have always had an integral role in shaping society. In fact, they currently generate 44% of economic activity. That includes your business. So what can you do to create the type of social impact you’d like to have? A good place to start is by understanding exactly what social impact is and why it’s so important.

What Is Social Impact?

Social impact is the effect that your company has on its employees, customers, business partners and the community as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). It includes the efforts, activities and policies, deliberate or not, that the business makes to address critical social injustices and challenges. These challenges might include, for example:

  • Economic disparity
  • Inequalities due to gender, race, sexual orientation, physical abilities, etc
  • Contamination of air and water
  • Depletion of natural resources and energy
  • Stagnation of economic growth and job opportunities
  • Hunger
  • Poor health care
  • Disparities in educational opportunities

Of course, there are more. These are just some of the types of impacts businesses may seek to address.In addition to actions taken, social impact can also be the result of the failure to act. In this way, business social impact can be negative. But for many companies, probably yours included, it is an essential ethical responsibility to make a positive difference. The question is how.

How Your Business Can Have Bigger Impact

As mentioned, positive social impact doesn’t happen by accident. Companies that make a difference do so by including deliberate action within their strategies. Your organization can get started by defining the areas where you can have the greatest impact and that are aligned with the company’s mission and vision. Then it’s up to leadership to create opportunities that inspire the company and its employees to participate in philanthropic and community-oriented efforts.

4 Ways Your Business Can Have Social Impact

Here are four ways that your company can maximize its social impact. Most socially responsible companies will prioritize one over the others. But the most successful will include elements of each. They are all important to the proliferation of prosperous communities worldwide.

1. Philanthropy and Giving Back

It’s one thing to donate to a worthy cause here and there. It’s quite another to implement a philanthropy program that promotes social value. A well-designed approach signals to employees that the company shares their values while elevating your corporate giving to a whole new level and providing opportunities to community residents. You can capture the hearts and the imagination of your employees by soliciting active involvement, providing matching donations and encouraging volunteer support. A holistic program aims to improve the community and enhance the company’s future viability. Philanthropy can become a vital part of your business success.

2. Exhibit Environmental Social Responsibility

More companies are becoming environmentally aware. Green initiatives save money and the environment while putting the business ahead of the regulatory requirements that will surely come in the near future. Many consumers, as well, want companies to reduce their carbon footprint and be better stewards of world resources. This isn’t just limited to corporations with large energy requirements. It includes small businesses of every type that can make an effort to reduce, recycle and reuse. In doing so, companies may also find ways to innovate and create better internal processes.

3. Support the Local Community

No company can dominate its market in the long run without community support. It may not be feasible to sponsor every soccer team that asks, but most successful businesses recognize a responsibility to be a contributing member of the community. Thriving companies create jobs and generate tax revenue. They make the area a more attractive place to work, live and raise a family. The relationship is symbiotic, however. There could be no business without a healthy and supportive community. Remember, too, that one of the main reasons your business does well is because the business community itself is vital and even competitive. No business wants to be one of the crowd, but remember that if you have no competitors, you may not have a viable business model for long. In fact, complementary businesses help increase your customer base. Further, competition might actually increase your chances of long-term success.

4. Exhibit Internal Social Responsibility

It’s not enough to simply provide jobs within the community. Social responsibility means that employers carefully consider the company’s ethical practices and the impact that these practices may have on the broader society. This means demonstrating fair and equitable treatment, not just to the customers that buy its products and services but to its own employees. Research shows that employees who are treated well can engender loyal customers.Virgin Airlines founder and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, for one, agrees: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”Companies exhibit internal corporate responsibility by implementing policies that go beyond legal requirements. Businesses that are known for creating a great culture do much more. Policies that promote sustainability demonstrate a visible and deeply held commitment to:

  • Pay fair wages in all of the communities and countries that support the company
  • Treat employees equitably
  • Encourage work-life balance
  • Support physically and mentally healthy habits
  • Hire diversity and promote diverse pipeline strategies

Beyond profit, these companies recognize that equitable internal practices are vital to their public image and, hence, to their sustained success.

Benefits of Making an Impact

Increasingly, both consumers and communities alike expect businesses to contribute to societal well-being. Even without this expectation, however, there are many reasons to maximize your company’s social impact. These benefits warrant a complete article on their own, but, briefly, they include:

  • Reducing social risks that may impact the business in the long run, for example, the decline in the availability of critical technology skills.
  • Improving employee productivity, engagement and loyalty by cultivating happier employees who share the company’s sense of purpose.
  • Attract the 60% of customers who increasingly prefer products offered by environmentally friendly, sustainably sourced and ethically responsible companies.
  • Enhance the company’s reputation, its attractiveness to investors and access to capital markets.
  • Support sustainability by helping to promote a healthier marketplace.
  • Gain an early competitive advantage by addressing issues that may eventually come under regulatory control, for example, the overuse of nonrenewable resources.

All of these benefits, individually and jointly, serve to greatly enhance your company’s profitability and long-term sustainability.

Maximize Your Impact

Clearly, the choices that we make today will impact future generations for years to come. It’s both a privilege and a responsibility to be part of the decision-making process. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, however. One of the easiest ways to get a jumpstart on your commitment to maximizing social impact is to implement a philanthropy program. It should be thoughtfully designed, but that doesn’t mean it must be difficult to put in place. Groundswell can help. We turn charitable giving into an employee benefit that will not only benefit the community, but it will also boost your bottom line. Contact us for more information.

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