CSR For Beginners: How To Give Back As A Business

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All of us know that a business is primarily set up to earn profits. However, there is nothing that stops a business from being socially responsible and investing resources back into the community through which it operates. There are some businesses that decide from day one that if they take with one hand, they will give with the other.

This has led to the evolution of the BOGO (Buy One, Give One) business model popularized by the TOMS, the shoe brand. TOMS gives one pair of shoes to the needy in South America or Africa for every pair that it sells to consumers.

Even if your business is not BOGO, it is in your company’s interest to be socially responsible in the long run. Here’s how you can go about it:

Identify a cause that you would like to support

A lot of businesses like to donate a part of their profits back to charity or a social cause. For this, it’s good to identify a cause that aligns well with your business. So if you are in the food business, you could support free mid-day meals for the poor. If you are in the construction business, you could build some affordable housing for the needy. Once your cause is clear, make sure that it permeates every aspect of the business.

Invest in the local community

You could identify a strong need in the local community in which you operate. Suppose that you are running a factory in a city suburb or a small town. If there is no school or hospital there, you could fund the building of one. If the children living around your area of operations need access to technology, you could support IT education for them. If there is a need for good healthcare, you could look into supporting that. You can do something as simple as planting a few trees to give back to nature whose resources you are using.  

Build transparency into the business

Make sure you encourage openness in all your dealings and transparency in your operations and books of accounts. This will automatically make you more socially responsible.

Ensure the well-being of your trade network

All the people you work with – your suppliers, vendors, employees, managers, partners, dealers, retailers, consumers, shareholders – in fact, your entire trade network – ensure the well-being of each one of them. Your first responsibility is towards them. They are the reason your business is what it is.

I recently happened to attend a textile business event hosted by an old and established shirting company based out of Mumbai. I was surprised to see people’s reactions to that company’s journey thus far. There was not a single person present at that event, who was not moved by the company’s way of being and trade practices.