- Giving back to your local community and the world can help you build a more positive brand reputation.
- Focusing on sustainability in your internal operations can make your company more attractive to potential job candidates.
- Following through on your company values helps ensure your brand stays positive in the public eye.
- This article is for business owners who want their companies to be more socially responsible.
Many of today’s consumers care about more than just the quality of a business’s products and services. They pay attention to the values a company supports, the way it creates its products, and its environmental impact.
Consumers want the organizations they do business with to demonstrate corporate social responsibility because they prefer to know their money is going toward something good. For businesses, the rewards of corporate social responsibility include enhanced brand perception, consumer goodwill, and the satisfaction of doing the right thing and improving the world.
We’ll highlight 10 companies that put social good at the heart of their businesses and share tips on how to become a more socially responsible organization.
Establishing a company mission that incorporates social responsibility and defines tangible values can boost employee engagement and help a business grow.
10 examples of socially responsible businesses
Here are some examples of companies that strive to follow socially responsible business practices.
1. Accessibility Partners
Many people take their computers, smartphones and tablets for granted. However, for people with disabilities, using these technologies can present significant challenges. Accessibility Partners works with private and public information technology manufacturing companies, federal agencies, and other organizations to test and review products that make IT accessible to individuals with disabilities.
2. The Giving Keys
As a “pay it forward company,” The Giving Keys employs people who are transitioning out of homelessness and provides full-time jobs at a living wage. With each job, the company offers employee benefits as well as paid time off for housing, education and case-management appointments.
The company sells jewelry with an inspirational word engraved on each item, such as “Dream,” “Create,” or “Inspire.” The Giving Keys encourages people to embrace their word and pay it forward by giving the product to someone who needs the message.
3. Headbands of Hope
After a life-changing internship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Jessica Ekstrom wanted to continue helping children with life-threatening illnesses by starting her own business.
Her company, Headbands of Hope, sells made-in-the-U.S. headbands. For every headband sold, the company gives a headband to a child with cancer. HOH has donated headbands to every children’s hospital in the United States.
Did you know? When presenting your business idea to potential investors, sharing your social impact data can help build their consideration and continued interest.
This ethically conscious fashion startup designed a shoe inspired by traditional Ecuadorian canvas shoes. For each pair sold, Juntos donates a supply-filled backpack to an at-risk Ecuadorian child to help them participate more fully and effectively in school.
5. Krochet Kids
Years ago, three high school friends with a shared love of snow sports learned to crochet their own headwear. Though they sold custom creations to classmates, Krochet Kids fizzled out when they went to college — until they realized teaching their skills to people in developing countries could help break the cycle of poverty.
The company earned its nonprofit status in 2008, and today, Krochet Kids is helping more than 150 Ugandans and Peruvians earn a fair wage through the sale of crocheted goods.
6. Love Your Melon
Love Your Melon’s mission is to give a hat to every child in America battling cancer and to support nonprofit organizations researching cures for pediatric cancers. The company sells hats and scarves and donates 50 percent of its profits to cancer research initiatives. The company has donated more than $9.8 million and 250,000 hats since it was founded in 2012.
7. Prime Five Homes
Homes built by Prime Five Homes aren’t your typical houses. Each of these modern, sustainable homes is equipped to use less energy, gas and water, so buyers know they’re moving into a property that’s better for the environment.
Additionally, 10 percent of all sales goes to the company’s nonprofit arm, the Dream Builders Project, which provides services and monetary donations to select charities.
8. Rainbow Light
Founded in 1981, Rainbow Light started out selling spirulina nutritional supplements to health-conscious consumers. In addition to expanding its line of natural supplements, the company is committed to improving the health of its customers, trade partners, global community and the planet.
Rainbow Light helps fight global malnutrition with its supplements through Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit that delivers vitamins to at-risk mothers and babies. It uses 100 percent recycled and recyclable BPA-free packaging.
9. Sand Cloud
Sand Cloud is a beach lifestyle company that sells beach towels, blankets and other accessories. Founded in 2014, Sand Cloud donates 10 percent of profits to marine life preservation. It has partnered with nonprofits such as the Marine Conservation Institute, the Surfrider Foundation, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, San Diego Coastkeepers and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.
10. Wanderer Bracelets
Wanderer Bracelets sells products hand-carved in a hut in Bali by local artists. Since the company was founded in 2014, Wanderer Bracelets has created jobs for more than 150 people living in Bali, who are paid three times the local standard wage. Each bracelet is created with all-natural, repurposed water buffalo bone.
Most American consumers (70 percent) believe it’s at least somewhat important for businesses to make the world a better place by paying it forward via social responsibility.
How to be a socially responsible company
Social responsibility can provide several valuable benefits to your business that more than offset the slightly increased material and labor costs. Below are a few ways to create a sustainable business model.
- Follow a code of ethics. A business code of ethics outlines your company’s values and provides guidelines for your employees to follow. It can showcase your dedication to social responsibility and ensure that ethics prevail from top to bottom at your organization. Your workplace ethics influence everything from how you treat customers to your hiring process.
- Commit to environmental protection. The environment — and how you treat it — is one of the cornerstones of social responsibility. Doing a top-to-bottom analysis of how your company impacts the world and taking steps to improve is key to transforming it for the better. Adjusting to sustainability and initiatives like clean energy can be a long and expensive process, but it’s often worth it. Customers will appreciate it, and sustainable practices may save you money in the long run.
- Support local causes. Part of being socially responsible is becoming a community pillar. Some companies donate to local charities to get involved with their communities. However, supporting local causes isn’t as simple as collecting donations. Find organizations with missions that support your stated values to show the public that you genuinely believe in those causes. Include your team in the decision-making process for your social responsibility efforts to increase engagement and get insightful ideas.
- Don’t mislead the public. Avoid saying you believe in certain values if your usual business practices don’t showcase them. Not being a socially responsible company is better than falsely claiming to be one. If the public catches wind that you’re lying, your brand reputation could take a hit from which it would be difficult to recover. For example, if you commit to environmental causes, beware of greenwashing — that is, making false claims that your company or products are environmentally friendly. This will backfire and destroy consumer trust in your brand.
- Include your supply network. Analyze and, as needed, change aspects of your company if you want to be seen as socially responsible. For example, the suppliers you use reflect on you and potentially affect how the public sees you. If these suppliers are polluting the environment while you claim to be eco-friendly, that could be a problem. Research your suppliers to determine how well their processes align with your company values.
Encouraging employees to volunteer demonstrates your commitment to the local community while helping empower your team and boost engagement.
Adopt socially responsible practices for long-term success
Becoming socially responsible often means adjusting every aspect of your business to fit into a more ethical set of company values. It’s not an easy or short process, but the more you work toward accomplishing this goal, the more your company could benefit.
In today’s market, many people want to work for places that care for their employees and the community. Demonstrating your social responsibility helps ensure your customers and employees remain happy and devoted to your success.
Isaiah Atkins contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.