By Brandon Stapper, CEO of Nonstopsigns
The attitude toward social responsibility has changed dramatically in today's corporate landscape. In 1999, Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winner and famous economist, called it a "suicidal impulse" for businesses to dabble in social and environmental responsibility. Now, it's a requirement for most business plans to remain competitive in the marketplace.
Corporate social responsibility -- CSR -- takes many forms, such as ethical sourcing, environmental responsibility, volunteering and community building. I chose to channel my company's corporate social responsibility into employee experience. I believe in investing in our employees' growth through learning opportunities and educational incentives. We give special attention to 401(k) packages, benefits and the opportunity to move up in the company quickly. We also cater lunches on Fridays and make a point to meet together as a team.
I was inspired to pour the majority of my attention into the employee experience that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote about. The coffee company is known for its 401(k)s, employee benefits and college scholarships. In his book, Pour Your Heart Into It, Schultz shared the following that has always stuck with me: "Treating employees benevolently shouldn't be viewed as an added cost that cuts into profits, but as a powerful energizer that can grow the enterprise into something far greater than one leader could envision."
In addition to benefiting your employees, whatever form of corporate social responsibility you choose can have real benefits for your business image. After all, 70 percent of Americans believe it's important for companies to stand up for important social justice issues. The same Cone Communications survey found that Americans will reward companies for standing up for rights they believe in -- or punish them if they disagree: 87 percent of those surveyed said they would purchase a product or service because the company advocated for a cause they cared about, while 76 percent would refuse to buy a product from a company that advocated causes they disagreed with.
It's clear that choosing the right causes to champion for your corporate responsibility and declaring them proudly can be a great asset to your business image. Here's how you do it:
Promote your causes or corporate social responsibility on your website.
Your web page should feature a tab that proudly promotes your CSR contributions or causes. Share your mission statements or customer promises here, but be sure that you're telling the truth. The 2017 Cone Communications CSR survey revealed that when a company touts their corporate social responsibility, 76 percent of surveyed millennials would do their own research to discern whether the company was being authentic. Be sure that you're putting your money where your mouth is, or you risk being found out and deeply embarrassed.
Celebrate your employees on social media.
When our employee rose through the ranks from the production floor to chief operating officer, we told the world. We published the news on our blog and sent press releases to our contacts to celebrate Cole's story with our company. Not only does this make our employees feel valued and newly committed, but it also showed our followers, customers and competitors that we value every member of our team. This is intensely motivating for everyone involved. While some corporations may think awards, recognitions and contests aren't worth publishing on their media platforms, they are. This is a great strategy for promoting volunteerism and employee engagement, and it allows others to become as invested in your CSR efforts as you are.
Make sure every employee knows your CSR promise and lives up to it.
If you vow to support a cause, make a point to keep followers and employees updated on your major moves. This helps keep your employees engaged and ensures that they're in line with your vision for corporate social responsibility. Whether it's becoming sustainable, championing ethical sourcing or raising the quality of the employee experience, regular updates will help improve your business image and give employees and followers something to cheer about.
If you're unsure what corporate social responsibility cause is the best for you and your team, draw inspiration from your heroes as I did. Looking into Starbucks practices when contemplating how to make my employee experience competitive and enjoyable helped me craft my own plan for my team.
Brandon Stapper is a self-made entrepreneur and investor residing in San Diego, California. He is currently the CEO of Nonstopsigns.