Running a socially responsible business means consciously managing the social impact of your business – how it relates to you, your clients and your community.
It is easier for you to see the impact of your solo business than it is for bigger businesses, who are often isolated
from the real world by layers of bureaucracy or glass towers.
Here are some areas to consider to ensure you have a socially responsible business:
Getting your own house in order
Are you socially responsible in the way you practice business? When did you last seriously consider the ethics of how
you conduct business? Are you doing things in your business that you would not otherwise do as an individual?
How does your business affect your life and wellbeing? Is your business good for your health? A socially responsible
business that fills your life with meaning and fulfilment will have a positive roll-on effect on your friends and
Keeping good company
How well do you know your suppliers and associates? What values are you supporting when you do business with them?
Contrary to what some people will have you believe, there is no one way to do business. Just as you are a unique
individual who chooses who you are and what sort of life you want to live, you can choose how you practice business.
This also means choosing who you work with.
I consciously choose my associates and my clients.
Participating in your community
Participation is the key to a deeper level of connecting with your community beyond monetary donations. Participation
is the giving of your skills, time and attention to a community cause.
There are few things in life more rewarding than rolling up your sleeves and pitching in to build something larger
and grander. This is a great way to hone existing skills and develop new ones. Community projects usually have severe
constraints and thus provide great opportunities to flex your innovation muscle.
Every year, I commit a percentage of my productive hours to pro-bono work. I treat every pro-bono client as a paying
client – with firm deliverables, outcomes and deadlines.
Check out Good Company for worthy community causes you can
Giving, not “giving back”
I dislike the phrase “giving back” because it implies that something has been “taken away” to
Giving is an amazingly life-affirming and transformative act for all involved. It is the practice of living with a
sense of abundance.
But in our society, there is a focus on what we don’t have, which makes giving harder to do. The more we focus
on what we don’t have, the more we regress into a selfish, distrusting, everyone-for-themselves society. I
don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a society like that.
Swapping 10 hours of your time for $1,000 worth of media exposure is bartering. Bartering is not giving.
When was the last time you gave simply for the sake of giving? Start doing it more often.
An inevitably integrated practice
Business is a social activity. As such, social responsibility needs to be an integrated consideration. You need to
choose to run a socially responsible business. Over at my blog, I
spend a lot of time thinking about how I practice business.
Do you run a socially responsible business or is it an area you need to work harder on? Let us know.