Your business needs to operate like the sea anemone.
You see, the sea anemone understands that it needs another organism, the clownfish, to survive. It offers the clownfish protection from predators because its tentacles are toxic to every other fish. Meanwhile, the clownfish gives the other fish the impression that the sea anemone is safe to approach.
The scientific word for arrangements like this in the animal kingdom is mutualism, which is also a relevant arrangement in business. You provide a service or product that is useful to the world and in return, consumers purchase from your company because they have a need for what you are providing.
Having a values-based business is one of the best ways to achieve mutualism because consumers get to fill a need at the same time as an aspiration, which in turn strengthens their trust towards the company. This very reality explains how something like social responsibility can influence consumer relations for the better.
What is Social Responsibility?
Social responsibility, also known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is the way your business takes into account social, environmental and economic issues and concerns and integrates methods of addressing them jointly in its everyday practices.
It is made of the seven key principles of socially responsible behaviour identified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), that include accountability, transparency, respect for human rights and ethical behaviour. It means adopting a values-based model, where your business operates first and foremost through the lens of its fundamental values.
Simply put, your customers want to see that you stand for something and that you’re not just looking out for your bottom line. Do you care about what’s important to them? Does your business reflect them and their values? Do you incarnate these values in the day-to-day?
All About Trust
Your main motivation to adopt a values-based model like CSR should always be that you feel it’s the right thing to do. To be credible, you must demonstrate authenticity and earnestness.
But aside from giving back to your community and your customers, there is another good reason to integrate CSR into the foundation of your business and its policies. Mainly, having a more sustainable and ethical model builds trust.
According to Forbes Magazine, customers are 4.1 times more likely to trust a brand that is driven by purpose and more than 6 times more likely to defend it in a challenging moment for that same reason.
But why all this emphasis on trust?
Because it can lead to two major outcomes for your business:
1) Your communications won’t fall on deaf ears (think #scrollstopper #attentiongrabber)
2) Trust is the foundation of loyalty (otherwise known as ‘repeat business’)
When a business is transparent about its values and how it operates, it attracts customers that hold those same values who likely prefer to support that business over another. If you are trusted then your message is heard and internalized rather than discarded as more white noise.
Trust is so important because it is the key to having that mutually beneficial relationship with your customers.
How Can Social Responsibility Be Improved?
Here are a few topics that are part of CSR and should be on your mind when it comes to how you run your business:
Fair treatment of employees
What kind of support do you offer? Is there a process in place for helping your team overcome challenges at work? Do they know what to do if they’re having a negative experience in the workplace?
Inclusive work culture:
Do you celebrate diversity in your business? Do you actively listen to diverse staff members about their experiences and value their point of view? How do you protect them against any possible discrimination?
Is your business designed and organized to welcome people with various disabilities? Do you offer accommodations to employees who could benefit from them? How easily can a person with a visual or hearing impairment navigate your website?
Does your business use unnecessary amounts of paper products? Do you have any policies in place to reduce energy consumption? Do you encourage active transportation modes for staff?
The external reflects the internal
Remember, everything you do internally reflects externally. When a customer sees your business supporting people that look like them, they know that it’s a safe place for them to go. When they see support for causes that are near and dear to them, they then want to support you.
The best thing you can do for your business is to be who you say you are. Your message will resonate ten times more with your target audience when it has the strength of action and policy behind it.
At The Storyteller, we want to help you build a socially responsible foundation for your business.
- We can provide advising on making your communication and marketing tools and materials more inclusive, transparent and accessible.
- We can review your messaging and branding so that it aligns perfectly with what you stand for.
- We can also help you redefine your vision so that it pulls you in the direction you really want to go and tell your story to help you make history.
Want to learn more on how we can be of service? Book your free consultation!