Being socially responsible can benefit your small business

My organisation is a social enterprise with a passionate belief that successful businesses are responsible and that small businesses can make strong contributions to social and economic development at a local level.

Responsible business practice can create real advantages for smaller businesses. It’s an investment that can pay off in the longer term, and should be seen as part of the modern model of business excellence as part of doing business well.

My organisation measures the social good businesses do in five key areas:

  1. Young People – How businesses help young people into work
  2. Environment – How businesses improve their impact on the environment
  3.  Charity and Communities – How businesses support charities and communities in their local area
  4.  Employee engagement – How businesses make life better for their employees
  5.  Supply chain – How businesses work better with their suppliers

By addressing some or all of these five areas of social responsibility, you can build long-term consumer trust, helping your businesses succeed.

The global economic crisis and its social consequences damaged consumer confidence and levels of trust in business, and have focused public attention on the social and ethical performance of enterprises. This is a positive opportunity for small businesses to recapture the hearts of consumers and persuade them to shop local.

One business that we helped show their social good is Apex Radio Systems, a small business hiring and selling two-way radio systems. Acting responsibly is seen as an integral part of the company’s ethos, and has helped them strengthen the connections they have with their consumers and suppliers.

The business aims to inspire their employees to engage with the community through local events and charity, organising a food collection between colleagues to donate to their local food bank for example, and sponsoring local charity events by supplying two-way radios to help the event organisers.

Apex also helps local young people into work by employing team members through apprenticeship schemes, work placements and graduate plans. Currently the company consists of 23 employees, of whom six started as apprentices and one started on a graduate placement. The company believes that hiring young people supports the local community, and recognises that young people are full of fresh ideas.

Apex’s activities have benefitted them hugely, and are the type of activities any business can do. Could being more socially responsible be included in your business plan?

How your small business can benefit from being socially responsible:

  • Growth – Being more socially responsible can help you get a marketing edge over your competitors to help you grow. Social value is also now a key element of applying for tenders from larger business and the public sector.
  • Recognition – People in communities and charities you have helped will want to say thank you and will be more likely to use your services in the future.
  • Reputation – Your employees and stakeholders will be proud to be involved with a good business, and more people will want to work for you and use your services.                                                                                                                    
  • Promote – You can build local trust in your business by promoting your reputation as a business that cares. In the 21st century, customers who are now more than ever aware of scandals and world events want to do business ethically. 

Kay Allen will be discussing how businesses can account for the good they do at the AAT Annual Conference on Saturday May 16. 


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