How small businesses can implement a CSR program that suits their values

In this day and age, it’s no denying that people are becoming increasingly conscious of the choices they make. Selecting brands to purchase from and support aren’t just a matter of their likeability nowadays – the process is becoming even more focused on how ethical these brands are, and whether they are supporting a cause that aligns with the consumer.

In a 2018 study, 88 per cent of consumers want brands to help them live sustainably; and there’s no doubt that figure is growing each day given how topical the subjects of sustainability and climate change are.

Being a start-up and small business, it was important for us to come up with a CSR initiative that aligned with our company values, as well as support another start-up or small business. Having built two small businesses from the ground up, I know what small businesses go through, and I also know the importance of implementing a CSR initiative that works for you as a business owner, the brand and your employees.

1. Consult your staff collectively

When you’re choosing a CSR program in a small business, you want everyone to be favourable of the cause since you’re working closely together.

Smaller organisations will be able to involve employees in a more collaborative way. See this as a key advantage over larger businesses, as it allows your staff to choose causes close to their heart, which in return enhances engagement and can have a bigger impact on overall workplace morale.

2. Never leave it out of your marketing efforts, but remember that size doesn’t matter

It can be challenging to find a partnership or initiative that supports human or animal welfare or the environment that’s the perfect fit for your company. Instead of setting unrealistic expectations from the get go, remember that the size of the initiative doesn’t matter when you’re starting out.

Start small, perhaps by hosting a “volunteering” staff offsite. Take your time to do your research and look for the program that suits you and your company best, and also consider how you can implement it into your marketing program.

You can have the biggest and best CSR initiative – a game-changing idea or partnership that will change the way you run your business forever – but if you’re not marketing it correctly, consumers won’t know about it.

3. Make sure it’s aligned to your core business values, and incorporate it into your day-to-day

It’s essential to think about the USP of your business and go from there. Perhaps there’s a natural link between what you sell/the service you provide, and a societal cause that could be supported? Offering proactive solutions to minimise the impact your business has on societal issues (or in our case, environmental ones) is the best way to go about it and championing your CSR purpose gets a lot easier if it’s ingrained in your day to day processes.

If you’re starting small and implementing more sustainable practices within your office, make a point to ensure all of your staff know of the new changes around them. You could make small alterations to your work environment such as banning plastic bags and takeaway cutlery and giving “brownie points” to the most sustainable employee each month. This is a nice way to stay aligned with your company values and practice support for your CSR initiative daily.

Uzair Moosa, CEO, Hey You

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