For many startups, the concept of corporate responsibility can seem like one that belongs solely to big corporations. However, things are changing and many are starting to realise that this is a core part of integrated business planning and no longer an optional extra. As said by John Morrison, Executive Director at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, “The age of responsibility is upon us – if not in terms of practice then definitely in terms of public expectations.” Is this something that can work for startups, though? Today, we’re going to take a closer look.
What does corporate responsibility cover?
When you hear the term ‘corporate responsibility’ you probably think of a business doing some charity events and certain aspects of employee wellbeing. However, once you step back and take into account all that this umbrella term covers, you begin to realise just how important it is for present and future business endeavours. It is simply the result of a well-run business, which can then provide value for all its constituents, including employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community.
The five broad of corporate responsibility are included below:
- Workplace: Includes human rights, employee engagement, and health and safety legislation.
- Environment: Includes environmental legislation and reducing energy wastage.
- Community: Includes local awareness and supporting the community.
- Marketplace: Includes the supply chain and stakeholders.
- Customer wellbeing: Includes wellbeing of the customer and a wider perspective of their needs and expectations.
Yes, certain aspects of these areas can seem like a bit of a stretch for startups, but there are still aspects of this that you can begin to gain opportunities from. That is why we are going to look at five ways startups can utilise corporate responsibility.
1. Value your people
This is a simple step and it is a wonder that so many startups get it wrong. Every boss will tell you that people are their greatest asset, but how many of them actually mean this? No matter how small your startup business may be, people need to be valued and will require training and development opportunities if they are going to grow and help your business grow too. Speak to your employees, help them aspire to and achieve personal goals, and listen to any worries they may have. Having driven, engaged and productive personnel will benefit your business.
2. Being green doesn’t have to be hard
Even startups can be green and contribute to a more environmentally friendly world. Just being aware of how your business operates can give remarkable insights into changes that can improve a business’ eco billing. Think about factors such as printing and introducing initiatives such as printing on both sides of paper; think about getting used office furniture instead of new, which could turn into a great team-building day if done together; and do the little things: make sure the lights and all electrical equipment are turned off in the office, for example, and keep an eye on the temperature. Recycling initiatives for the whole team are also important.
3. Ethical business partners
Many startups will likely partner with a vendor without any idea of how they actually operate. As long as they’re getting the job done, does it matter? Well, yes, it does matter in terms of how it makes you look. Think about vendors in terms of their level of sustainability, ethical business practice and customer awareness.
4. Come together
When it comes to corporate responsibility and making a difference to the community, there’s no reason why you need to go it alone. There are other startup businesses who want to make a difference, just like you, but sometimes the resources aren’t available. Coming together and performing collective actions can be a powerful tool to make a real difference.
5. Change as you grow
You’re a startup now, but chances are, if all goes well, things are going to change. And as they change, even before perhaps, you need to be growing as a business in terms of how it looks at corporate responsibility and the actions it performs. There will be different demands with growth and more people to think about, both in terms of employees and customers, so it is important that you continue to analyse what your business is doing in terms of corporate responsibility and where it wants to go.
This is a guest article provided by Joel Cook from EDP where you can learn more about corporate responsibility approaches.
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