We like to think everyone wants to make positive changes in the world. But where do you start? Corporate Social Responsibility sounds dutiful but veryexpensive, cumbersome, and, well, corporate. Small businesses may hear the of it and shy away for these reasons. However, being a socially responsible small business is not only important, but completely feasible.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
CSR is a means by which for-profit organizations can take a stand on public issues, and help to make positive change. CSR refers to the moral obligation of a firm to their stakeholders. Stakeholders include employees, customers, partners, and anyone else affected by corporate policy. It is also an opportunity for company to “give back” to the causes their stakeholders feel passionately about. Typically this includes environmental efforts, philanthropy, ethical labor practices, and volunteering. Companies can launch recycling programs, ensure that they are hiring a diverse staff, and encourage volunteering by presenting volunteer opportunities and/or offering incentives for employees to volunteer. Some companies coordinate “volunteer days” at local nonprofits.
CSR not only helps the community, it also results in many benefits for a firm. For example, strong CSR can help to bolster brand reputation, build trust with key stakeholders, and position your company as a thought leader. Giving back to local communities makes a company more marketable, and more desirable to prospective clients and employees. It is critical that both internal stakeholders (employees) and external stakeholders (clients and prospective clients) are aware of all of the CSR activities your company is engaging in. Communication through social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn and tools such as Medium enables prospective customers and partners to identify firms with common values in which they might want to partner with.
What does it mean to be a socially responsible small business?
CSR is often associated with large corporations. This being said, small businesses can also benefit from socially responsible practices. In fact, small and emerging businesses (SME’s) account for a whopping 70% of the workforce! More attention to CSR in small businesses is needed, as the world truly benefits from SME’s developing and implementing a culture of giving.
However, SME’s face unique challenges to CSR, namely a finite pool of resources, including limited equity and time. Fortunately, programs administered by Pledge 1%, CoolCalifornia.org and the U.S. Small Business Association and have been designed to scale down for small businesses. The CSR Wire, a digital newsletter and information repository is also a great resource for small business who are rolling out a CSR program.
Presence Social Impact
With so many entry points into CSR, it is easy to get overwhelmed. We are a small business, with finite resources and very high aspirations for CSR. Here is how we got started.
This year we joined Pledge 1%, a global movement to create a new normal where giving back is integrated into the DNA of companies of all sizes. Pledge 1% encourages and challenges individuals and companies to pledge 1% of equity, product, and employee time for their communities, because pledging a small portion of success can have a huge impact on tomorrow. Pledge 1% also offers companies turnkey tools and best practices, making it accessible for any company to incorporate philanthropy into their business model.
Over 1000 companies in 30 countries have joined the Pledge 1% movement, including Glassdoor, Yelp, General Assembly, Docusign, Salesforce, Atlassian, and Techstars. As a part of our pledge, we are crafting a unique Social Impact practice. We offer discounted rates on services to nonprofits as our services are our product. Companies such as Classy and Twilio have gotten involved other ways. Classy gives their staff paid time off for volunteering and dedicates 1% of their product to their clients by waiving transaction fees on #GivingTuesday. Twilio is investing 1% of their equity through Twilio.org, a foundation that was established in 2013 to provide nonprofits with access to their products, thereby equipping charitable organizations with the power of communication.
Employee-driven corporate social responsibility is common at small businesses. For example, at Presence, Mike Havrilla participated in the 2016 Nonprofit Success Pack Community Sprint. Sara Chieco leads a Girlforce Study Group as well as facilitates Salesforce.org Office Hours. Esther Weon leads coding classes for Girl Develop It as well as joined many other Presence employees as a mentor at CODE2040’s Hack4Diversity Ideation session this summer. With our CODE2040 fellow Scott Paillant leading the charge, it was easy, and frankly a lot of fun, to become involved with the group. We look forward to hosting fellows every summer.
We are proud to join Salesforce.org, Bigger Boat Consulting, Heller Consulting, and several other Salesforce.org partners in sponsoring the Girlforce at Dreamforce Event in October. Girlforce is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women in the nonprofit Salesforce community to be fearless leaders in technology. Girlforce is based in the Power of Us Hub, which is an online community available for Salesforce.org customers and partners. Members include Salesforce users, administrators, developers, and consultants who are working together to improve our careers, our organizations, and our communities.
Whether you are a small or a large business developing a CSR practice is important for your community as well as your business. Small businesses have the power to embrace sustainability and corporate social responsibility — while also strengthening their bottom line. Joining Pledge 1%, CoolCalifornia.org, or the U.S. Small Business Association are great ways to get started. The possibilities of becoming involved are endless. Don’t be frightened by the challenges and get started.