The worldwide pandemic has changed almost everything. Businesses are no exception. Beyond CSR and corporate citizenship, business today are expanding the horizons of their social accountabilities. Many businesses are coming forward to help society in these difficult times. While some businesses are offering face masks, hand sanitizers, others providing funds to manufacture much-needed ventilators. In that sense, businesses are becoming more responsible. In fact, being socially responsible has become much important today than ever.
In this context, businesses must develop a social impact strategy. A well-defined strategy helps companies navigate the difficulties of addressing critical social and infrastructural issues while also enhancing the company’s brand reputation. Following are some of the steps that are needed to create a social impact program for your organization:
1. Enlist your resources
A functional enterprise possesses many resources that can contribute to a social impact strategy. For instance, employees can work as volunteers; financial revenue can be donated as monetary help. Enlisting your resources will help you identify your strengths in serving communities better.
As a business entity, you should align your business services to fulfill the needs of the community. For example, if you are a tech company, consider offering help to community-based organizations that work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to communities that have suffered inequalities. Or, if you run a grocery chain, consider helping local food-bank provide access to fresh and healthy food.
2. Reinforce your company purpose and values
Conventionally, businesses are operated to generate revenue and make a profit. However, in the global crisis, people are more inclined towards socially or environmentally responsible brands that are serving the purpose aligned to their values as individuals
Thus, you as an organization must revisit your purpose and reinforce company values. Beyond generating revenue, reassess your purpose to build a positive brand image.
3. Form a social impact committee
While most companies do not hold the necessary expertise in social issues, forming a social impact committee is a great idea. The strength of the committee may vary from five to eight people depending upon the size of the organization. Ensure that a committee should be represented by a good cross-section of diversity, including senior and mid-level management people.
A committee like this will help you generate insights on various community requirements while also providing a mix of feedback from the community, employees and business priorities. It will further create guiding principles and policy documents and, in turn, the service delivery mechanism to connect company resources with community-based organizations.
4. Align community goals to support existing networks
Usually, country and state-level agencies set goals to resolve critical social and environmental issues. Research those issues and align your community goals with them. By supporting existing networks, you can create a greater impact through collective efforts.
5. Set parameters of volunteerism
Consider creating a policy that provides guidelines or set parameters of volunteerism. Such a policy will demarcate between company volunteering versus the personal endeavour of an individual employee. This is crucial to keep your organizational conduct and values intact.
For example, you might be an organization that do not support any religious institution or any political entity; you can consider discussing the same with your legal representatives and human resources to frame a policy accordingly. This way, you make your employees aware to what extent they can support a particular organization.
6. Enter into partnership with community organizations
Once you as a business entity decide to support a community-based organization, consider forming a partnership. By entering into a partnership, you bestow trust and offer collaborative work and not a mere transactional relationship. Moreover, seek necessary tools and expertise from the community-based organization as they hold in depth understanding of the cause they are supporting.
7. Guide & empower your employee volunteers
As you build a relationship with community-based organizations, you should also consider creating a policy with the help of your management team, legal counsel and human resources to guide and empower your employees.
Offer flexibility to your employees during their working hours while they are volunteering for a cause.
Moreover, consider creating a toolkit in collaboration with your community partners to properly train and guide your employees in their pursuit of volunteerism.
8. Monitor, evaluate and report your impact
Don’t forget to keep track of your progress. You must have data related to all grants and resources you have contributed so far. You can then document this data to share the stories of the work and thereby create a positive impact on society.
Keep records of both the quantitative metrics (such as volunteers per project) and qualitative metrics (such as positive change demonstrated as a result of your actions). It will not only contribute to a larger social good but also enhance your brand reputation.
While you as a business is willing to contribute to society and create an impact through your actions, you must consider creating a social impact strategy. Today, in times of global health emergency, social needs are vast. Thus, you need a clearly defined strategy to help you determine the course of actions you might need to take in the process. This article has provided eight steps to help you create a social impact strategy. You can not only bring a positive change with your actions but also create goodwill for your brand.