How can you make social good a priority for your company?
Committing to a social good strategy in a clear and actionable way isn’t an impossible task. Spending a little time and effort on a well thought-out strategy will keep you on track, amplify your impact, and save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Here are 5 steps to an effective social good strategy.
1. Create a mission statement… and make it public
If your company is serious about social good as a business objective, you will need to treat it seriously. Writing a clear mission statement will help embed social responsibility as something core to your company’s actions.
An effective statement will focus on authenticity, minimising harm, transparency, and a commitment to the local communities where the organisation operates.
However, in order to avoid this glorious, ambitious mission statement becoming just another internal document stored in some forgotten file, make it a public promise.
Publicly declaring your commitment to social responsibility firstly brings your customers in on the conversation, helping them to understand what is going on behind the scenes and upholding your promise of transparency.
Secondly, it creates an element of accountability for you as a company. You have told your stakeholders that social good is a priority for your organisation, so you better make it one. According to the Cone Communications CSR study, consumers are ‘inherently sceptical of what companies are doing to benefit society’ and ‘won’t believe a company is striving to be responsible until they hear information about positive efforts’.
Creating a public mission statement for social good will help your employees live and breathe your values and will hold you accountable in the eyes of the public.
2. Set realistic goals
So, you have an ambitious and well-considered mission statement, now what?
As with any business objective, you need to set some attainable goals, measurable KPIs, and the tactical actions you are going to take to get there.
This is where a lot of companies fall down as oftentimes social good objectives can be difficult to measure. Things like employee engagement, the impact of employee volunteering, reputation, and environmental impact are hard to put a figure on, but so important to your success with social responsibility.
Add to the fact that there are literally hundreds of social impact measurement models and it can all become very confusing very quickly!
Considering your company’s actions against the UN Sustainable Development Goals is a good place to start. These are 17 massively ambitious global goals set by the UN in 2015 with the aim of achieving them by 2030.
Thinking about how your company can take little steps to strive towards these goals in its every day operations is a great way to keep your actions aligned to a global effort for good and ensure you are focussing on the most impactful efforts.
Some other ways that you can prove your success with social responsibility is to become accredited with a recognised social business award such as B-Corp status, or the Social Enterprise Mark. You can also use tools such as the Social Business Model Canvas or the B Impact Assessment (even without applying for accreditation, this assessment tool is a great way to find strengths and weaknesses in your company’s social good strategy).
3. Ownership is key
Appointing a Social Responsibility Manager, Volunteer Champion, or Ambassador, whatever the title may be, is critical to your success in meeting your objectives.
Whether this means hiring for a new position or adding some responsibilities to an existing employee’s role, giving ownership of these goals to someone means you are far more likely to achieve them. Look for someone who is dedicated, engaged, enthusiastic, and passionate about ethical business.
Be realistic about what you expect from them and provide support in every way you can. For a social good strategy to be effective, there must be buy-in at every level of management, from CEOs to staff.
If you are reading this as the CSR manager for your company, make sure you have established clearly defined responsibilities with your employer, and explain the need for open communication and support in your role.
It is also important to empower employees to get involved in social good activities. Ask for feedback and listen to their suggestions. Studies have shown that activities such as volunteering for example, can have a huge impact on employee engagement, development, and satisfaction. But this is only true when the activity is in fact, voluntary. Giving autonomy to employees to contribute to the causes that matter most to them will create a wider sense of ownership within the team and amplify your impact in the community.
4. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
Collaboration is integral to an effective social good strategy. Whether it is internally between departments, or externally through partnerships with other organisations, businesses, or community groups, working together allows for new opportunities and increased impact.
It may be that your organisation has decided to support a certain cause and there is a local charity with the expertise and understanding to help you magnify your impact in this area. Building a long-term, business/charity partnership is a great way to provide meaningful support to your community.
If you are stuck for how to get started with social responsibility, why not build your reputation and brand awareness in your community by crowdsourcing ideas from your customers? Who knows what creative ideas they may come up with, and this will give you a clearer understanding of your customers’ values and beliefs. Likewise, look to your employees for suggestions and ideas to build a team commitment to social good.
5. Make it fun
Finally, the intention of your social good strategy is not to add a whole lot of stress to your team and overload them with new goals to report on. While social responsibility, of course, is a serious matter, think about ways you can inject some fun into it.
It is important that your whole team understands the why of these activities so they can get on board with it. Internal communication is vital to building a strong team culture and getting employees engaged with what you are doing. If you use a platform such as Slack or Microsoft teams, consider adding a ‘Social Good’ channel where you can share updates and encourage conversation around social responsibility.
Team activities such as competitions between departments help to get people motivated and working together for good.
Some ideas are:
- which department can raise the most for their chosen cause
- who can come up with the most creative social campaign
- which department has volunteered the most hours collectively
- who can create an event with the most community engagement
Consider setting up bonuses for employees who are especially committed to your social responsibility goals or introducing matched giving to support your employees in giving back to the charities that matter to them.
Another wonderful way to bring life to your social good strategy is by investing in employee volunteering and supporting your staff to get out of the office, work with the causes they care about, and see their impact in real time.
An effective social good strategy has a public commitment, realistic goals, and company-wide support.
If you want to know more about how employer led volunteering can improve your social good strategy, or how to measure your impact, please get in touch!