The health of the community very often reflects the health of its businesses. At minimum, a social responsibility policy adopts sustainable business practices that do no harm to a community’s environment and people. At its best, a social responsibility policy builds lasting and meaningful relationships with customers, employees and the public.
Taking the broader community needs into account is often beneficial to a business’s financial well-being. Creating long-term partnerships with the community, and avoiding environmentally and socially damaging short-term solutions, secures enduring economic stability. There are many approaches to social responsibility defined by an organization’s size and resources, but working with community-based initiatives, growing philanthropic efforts and developing business plans that are creating shared value are three of the most recognized.
Supporting organizations, programs and events in local communities can have long-term positive impacts. There are many ways to get involved. For example, if a community event is being held in a neighbood park:
- A local nursery can donate plants, flowers and staff time to lead an event-driven beautification project.
- Restaurants, bakeries and cafes can donate food for event goers, and help set up the food-stations.
- A concert venue could lend their lighting or sound equipment and staff to facilitate live entertainment.
All of these efforts build positive brand recognition in conjunction with growing the community event.
If time, resources or staff volunteer hours are limited, many community initiatives still benefit from simple financial support. For example, The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Corporation supports the arts by giving community grants to the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Heinz further serves the needs of the community by financially contributing to Operation Warm, a group providing new winter coats to more than 6,500 local children.
A social responsibility initiative focused on creating shared value recognizes that long-term business success and balanced social systems are interdependent. In order for a business to thrive, its community must be healthy, educated and well governed. Factoring formal investments in social welfare, education, civil society and healthcare into a strategic business plan creates opportunities to build social value and long-term growth.