By: Alice Cripps
In today’s market, businesses globally are tasked with integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into their business strategy whilst undergoing the daily pressure of maintaining growth and profitability. This pressure can feel even more overwhelming for startup business owners who are finding their feet and breaking into the market. As a new business owner, you may often find yourself navigating the balancing act of profitability and social responsibility.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is generally perceived as being the approach a business adopts to attain a balance of environmental, economic and social imperatives. Integrating positive CSR into a business plan is not only a strategic way to strengthen your brand, but also alleviates the stress and guilt that you may experience from feeling like you are contributing to rising global poverty levels or harming the environment when starting a new business. When a start up operates in an environmentally friendly and socially-minded way, owners and clients alike can reap long-lasting benefits.
What Does This Mean For Your Startup Business?
If you are in the process of launching a startup business but are concerned about the cost-effectiveness of integrating CSR, then worry no more. In 2022, going green is no longer a financial burden, but a growth opportunity for new businesses which can actually be more profitable than environmentally-unfriendly alternatives.
As a new business owner, you should strive to be socially-minded. Aside from limiting your carbon footprint, there are distinct economic advantages to integrating social responsibility into your startup business strategy. Firstly, effective CSR will enhance your brand image and consequently broaden your consumer reach, increasing sales and investments. It will also encourage employee loyalty, and ensure that your workplace is productive and inspiring.
Broadening Your Consumer Reach
Make sure to shout it from the rooftops if you’re integrating CSR into your business plan; if your business is visibly engaging in saving our planet and responding to wider social issues, you will naturally attract clients who share these values. You will not only be broadening your consumer reach, but ensuring that your customers are also playing a part in your social and environmental mission.What’s more, by standing out from competitors in your field who aren’t visibly embracing CSR, you will watch your client base blow up.
Studies have consistently found that ethical behaviour and social responsibility are vital to the reach of a new business. A study into the global effects of effective CSR, carried out by Cone Communications and Ebiquity in 2015, revealed that a staggering number of consumers were more likely to purchase from, and invest in, businesses that took social and environmental issues into account. 84% of clients search for companies which operate responsibly and provide ethical products and services.
Strengthening Employee Engagement
In the same way that customers prefer buying from socially responsible businesses, employees prefer working for them. By demonstrating your commitment to the world outside of your company’s bubble, you will attract like-minded individuals who will invest more time and energy into their work. As a result, you will be nurturing a positive work culture where your employees strive for personal and professional development.
Steps You Can Take to Go Green, and Stay Green
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to break the bank to go green. Aside from the lasting financial benefits you reap from broadening your customer reach, investing in ethical strategies may actually help you to save money. Take the example of green technology, such as LED lights and solar panels. Although installation sometimes requires a substantial investment, the costs of renewable energy have continued to fall in the last decade. Consider these startup costs for green alternatives as investments that could save you thousands in the long run and significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
Integrating CSR can also cut costs with immediate effect. You can save money instantly by reducing packaging for items and making the most of secondhand finds, for example opting to equip the office with recycled furniture.
Above all, be transparent with your business strategy to avoid accusations of ‘greenwashing.’ Advertising your startup as socially and environmentally responsible without setting concrete goals will deter customers. Don’t leave CSR in the office when you close up shop for the weekend: change your own habits to mirror your brand image.
Corporate Social Responsibility is here for the long haul. Make sure you start off at the top of your industry by integrating CSR into your startup business today.
Check out the full results of the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study here: https://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2015-cone-communications-ebiquity-global-csr-study
Alice Cripps is a graduate in French and English Literature from the University of Birmingham. She is currently working as a university-level English teacher in Toulouse, but has plans to enter into the publishing industry. In her spare time, she loves reading, travelling and trying out new brunch spots.
Main Image: Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash