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In today’s socially conscious and hyperaware world, businesses of all sizes are assuming greater responsibility in making a social impact and driving social change. The idea is not just restricted to one-off corporate social responsibility events; instead, it depends on introspecting the entire business model, from supply chains, ethical practices, and fair trade to broader concerns around the environment and community.
So, what are some ways in which businesses can leverage their influence to drive change?
Working for the greater good requires courage to make systemic changes within your business. Organizations need to look inwards and ensure that social responsibility is embedded in their core values and business operations. Take stock of your business processes, practices, and supply chain. This includes business partners and channels that work with you. For instance, many corporations around the world have enforced a strict ethical supply chain policy or fair trade policy to prevent exploitation and ensure all their material is responsibly sourced or created. The UN Global Compact has outlined 10 principles that can be useful to build a culture of integrity and social responsibility.
Evaluate the impact of your human resource policies and practices on employees and vendors. Factors like healthcare coverage, educational opportunities, work-life balance, paternity and maternity leave, or bereavement leave can greatly influence the work environment and help employees lead happy and fulfilling lives. It is prudent to foster a purpose-driven environment and encourage employees to think and act in ways that support your company’s vision for change and core values.
By inculcating a culture that emphasizes volunteering and social impact initiatives, businesses can educate their workforce to participate in issues that matter to them and take pride in the shared purpose.
Driving social change is easier said than done. It requires in-depth analysis and understanding of the issues at large and the approaches that work in the long term. Collaborating with non-profits or volunteer organizations that share similar visions and concerns can efficiently complement these efforts. These organizations bring in credibility and can amplify the reach of specific initiatives.
For instance, a business can partner with an environmental non-profit to launch a biodiversity initiative, which involves mobilizing its resources in the right direction.
Many businesses undertake a lifecycle analysis of their product range to maximise the transformational impact. This means identifying, quantifying, and reviewing the inputs and outputs of a product, service, or activity. The result serves as a decision-making tool; combined with financial analysis, it can help your business drive sustainability in its products. Creating a business case for sustainability enables organizations to track their product progress from the cradle to the grave. For example, Adidas created one million pairs of sneakers from recycled plastic, inspiring competitor sports gear brands to embark on similar initiatives.
Social media is a powerful advocacy tool. Champion a social topic that reflects your organizational culture and values. Amplify the message by creating and publishing campaigns around your mission, and rope in a local influencer who can help endorse the view on public platforms. By promoting the campaign across channels, your website, blogs, and newsletters, you can maximise the reach of your initiative. Be creative with your campaigns; if it is a fundraiser, pledge to donate a certain amount for every share or use of a branded hashtag. In addition to the donation, marketing your cause on social platforms will inspire action and conversation in the broader community.
Organizations have a unique advantage as changemakers to create a sustainable impact that can encourage others to follow suit. Social innovations also add value to the business by raising your profile and creating a brand positioning that appeals to the newer, socially conscious set of investors and buyers who care about being associated with the right company that shares their vision and values.
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