But often it’s the ‘E’ for environmentalism which gets a lot of the headlines. Global warming and the race to net zero are terms we hear almost daily in the news and many organisations have already made strong carbon commitments for the future.
However the ‘S’ for social is also now more important than ever before. Social responsibility encompasses a wide range of activities that benefit society, such as philanthropy, volunteering and ethical business practices.
But what exactly does it mean to have a social responsibility strategy, and how can businesses implement it effectively? In this piece, we'll explore the importance of putting the "S" in ESG and provide you with actionable advice on how to build a social responsibility strategy that works for your organisation.
Why social responsibility matters
As the digital divide in the UK deepens and the cost-of-living crisis brings people’s struggles into sharp focus, businesses have a huge role to play in alleviating some of these effects.
Social responsibility isn't just a feel-good initiative – it's a business imperative. Research has shown that companies that prioritise social responsibility outperform their competitors in a variety of areas, including employee retention, customer loyalty, and financial performance.
In fact, some argue that a company’s commitment to social responsibility influences consumer buying decisions more than price. 68% of people say a company's commitment to social responsibility and giving back to the local community (68%) are among the most important attributes of a company, with less than half (44%) naming price.
Building your social responsibility strategy
Your journey to a social responsibility strategy is divided into four key steps.
1. Define your values and goals
What are your values, and how do they align with your business goals? What social issues are most important to your company and your stakeholders? Once you have a clear understanding of your values and goals, you can start identifying social responsibility initiatives that align with them.
2. Engage with your stakeholders
Social responsibility is a collective effort that requires buy-in from all stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and suppliers. Engage your stakeholders early and often to understand their priorities and concerns, and involve them in the development and implementation of your social responsibility strategy.
3. Start small at first
Building a social responsibility strategy doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Start with small, manageable initiatives that align with your values and goals, such as a volunteer day or a charitable donation program. As you gain momentum and support from stakeholders, you can expand your initiatives and take on more ambitious goals.
4. Measure your impact
To truly understand the impact of your social responsibility initiatives, you need to measure their effectiveness. Set clear metrics and goals for your initiatives and track your progress over time. Use this data to refine your strategy and ensure that your initiatives are making a meaningful difference.
Looking for some starter inspiration?
‘Social responsibility’ might feel like an unfamiliar term for some when it comes to the workplace. Here are a couple of examples of social responsibility activities you can get started with right away:
Many organisations allow their employees paid days off to volunteer at charities and organisations that give back to their local communities. This might be through helping with digital inclusion workshops, or volunteering in kitchens or at an animal shelter. Not only will this create a sense of community between your business and your local community, but it’ll also boost employee wellbeing and morale.
These need to be carefully considered in order to not come across as a disingenuous throwaway donation. One way to do this is to allow employees to vote for causes close to their hearts, so that the business is aligned with its people on where a donation can make the most difference.
Another method is through a donation matching programme, whereby the business matches employee donations to a non-profit organisation of their choice. This way your business can donate to a number of causes and amplify the impact of your employees’ donations, too.
What we’re up to at GRENKE
At GRENKE, we’re committed to supporting our employees in making a tangible impact in our local community. Since 2021, we have been supporting charities close to all our individual branches. From foodbanks to hospices, our fundraising has been and will continue to be far reaching. And our team members are constantly on the lookout for new ways to give back to the communities in which we live and work.
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