Within the past few weeks, both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos had their names in headlines. Rather than describing the insane amount of wealth these men accumulate in mere minutes, these headlines had a different focus. Musk and Bezos were being spotlighted for their acts of individual and business social responsibility.
On Twitter, in an effort to ease the world hunger crisis, Musk declared that he would make a $6 billion contribution. This is with the condition that it had to be proven that his donation would make a difference. Bezos had announced that his earth fund would pledge $2 billion in landscape restoration with a focus on the African continent. These are just a couple of examples of social responsibility and while it may seem easier for them to donate money, there are other ways for a business to participate in social responsibility.
What is Business Social Responsibility
As it relates to society, social responsibility is akin to an ethical framework that an individual or group follows while interacting with society and the environment. With each interaction, the goal is to leave a positive impact on society as a whole. Individuals can significantly change society for the better, but when businesses are socially responsible, it is possible to see positive change on a larger scale.
Businesses and corporations tend to have more money than a single person, so there is often less of a financial strain when they give back to their communities. Ideally, social responsibility would be a core tenement and woven into the structure of a company. For a company to have any success in its endeavors with social responsibility, it has to align with the original values. In other words, it must be a natural path that the company would have progressed to and consistent. Social responsibility is not merely a publicity stunt. It is a code of conduct that is employees use in daily operations.
Examples of Social Responsibility From Brands
Social responsibility comes in many different forms. Some companies choose to allow their employees to take initiative while they provide financial backing. Gap is one of many companies that encourages its employees to give back to their communities by donating. Each brand underneath Gap Corporation has a program that will match each dollar donated by an employee to the same non-profit organization.
Lego takes a different approach and instead focuses on its environmental impact. As a partner of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Climate Savers Programme, Lego is consciously trying to reduce its carbon footprint. The company has switched over to wind power and pledged to reduce product waste. Lego also files reports of their carbon footprint throughout the production and supply line to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
How Smaller Brands Can Give Back
The previous examples were amazing ways in which companies have tackled the task of social responsibility. However, these options may not be feasible for smaller brands. In the case of smaller brands, it might be easier to focus on more immediate things such as ethically sourcing materials and paying their workers a liveable wage.
Ethical sourcing looks like transparent supply chains in which workers are provided with adequate working conditions and benefits. Ethical sourcing can also apply to the materials themselves. Some companies prefer to be cruelty-free and avoid using animals in any part of the production line. Others may use recycled or organic materials. You may even see the adoption of all three models.
Are Businesses Obligated to be Socially Responsible?
In most situations, companies are never forced into being socially responsible. Social responsibility is a voluntary task. Each corporation will have its own interpretation of how to execute that task. Although businesses do not have a set obligation, we are seeing more consumers demanding action. As issues such as world hunger and climate change have made their way to the forefront, more people have placed a higher value on the social contributions of businesses.
Young people have interpreted capitalism to be a system that thrives off of the exploitation of classes. The younger generation also places blame onto capitalism for the quick onset of our current climate crisis. Capitalism can be reimagined into a system that better serves the unique needs of the 21st century. However, businesses must first take accountability and incorporate social responsibility as a core value.
Why is Business Social Responsibility Important
Gen Z and Millenials are on their way to being the most influential generations as global demographics begin to shift. Not only will they make up a large portion of the workforce, but they will also be the main consumer population. In a survey conducted by Nielsen IQ, 81% of respondents felt that companies should take action to improve the environment.
We should also note that these consumers are also workers in these industries. Whether looking for a product or a job, their values remain the same. Companies should take some form of responsibility. This will gradually become standard practice as companies evolve to cater to the demands of their clients and try to attract new workers. Any company, regardless of scale, can always find more ways to be ethical. Read our article to find out Everything You Need to Know About Ethical Fashion. Knowledge about social responsibility is easily transferable, meaning that everyone can find value in it.