The importance of social responsibility and sustainability in business grows with each passing year. With the growing threat of climate change and the rise of inequality, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an ethical imperative. Luckily though, it’s also good for business; CSR can improve your brand image, help you attract and retain employees, gain investors, and even save money.
As a gifting services business, we take corporate social responsibility and sustainability very seriously and encourage our partners and corporate clients to do the same. We put together this blog post to help you understand the meaning of corporate social responsibility and to share examples of socially responsible business practices to inspire you to take action.
Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility
Before we take a look at some examples, let’s make sure we’re clear about what corporate social responsibility (or CSR) actually means. A common definition of CSR is a business model in which a for-profit company seeks ways to create social and/or environmental benefits while still pursuing its company’s goals. CSR encourages companies to use their power, influence, and resources to help solve social and environmental problems– which is important for many reasons, but especially because corporations are a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
One example of a large company with a strong CSR business model is Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Like many corporations that practice CSR, Ben & Jerry’s is a certified B Corp, which is widely recognized as the highest standard for corporate social responsibility. Ben & Jerry’s was an early proponent of CSR and established the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 1985 to help them carry out their CSR activities. The Ben & Jerry’s foundation now awards 2.5 million in grants every year to support grassroots social and environmental justice movements as well as local organizations in Vermont, where the company was founded.
Although the term CSR contains the word “corporate,” it’s a model that can (and should) be used by large corporations and small businesses alike. Many of our small business and artisan partners are doing extraordinary things for their communities and the environment. For example, our partner Miir is committed to measuring and reducing its emissions to achieve Net Zero by 2030. They are Climate Neutral Certified, a certified B Corp, a Climate Action Corps member, and a member of 1% for the Planet. Furthermore, they support the non-profit organization, Charity Water, with every product they sell.
5 Creative Ways to Be a Socially Responsible Company
Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, there are countless ways to make your business more socially responsible. To help get you inspired, here are a few of our favorite ideas:
1. Commit to using only natural, biodegradable materials to minimize your environmental footprint.
When it comes to materials you use, think about how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle to minimize waste and reduce your carbon footprint.
We are well aware that the industry we’re a part of can generate a lot of unnecessary waste. That’s why at Bestowe we commit to only using natural, biodegradable packaging materials and shippers and zero plastic – and we ask our vendors and partners to do the same. Through these policies, we’ve prevented more than 400 cubic feet of bubble wrap and other non-biodegradable plastics from ending up in landfills!
One of our partners, Rumpl, takes this commitment to the next level by using recycled materials to manufacture their beautiful, cozy camping blankets. They’ve developed an innovative process that uses discarded plastic bottles to create the synthetic insulation and polyester needed for their camping blankets. With this process, they’re minimizing waste and cleaning up the environment at the same time!
2. Partner with One Tree Planted or a similar environmental cause to give back to the environment with every sale.
Reducing our impact on the environment is one thing, and donating to support its rejuvenation is another– both of which are equally important! At Bestowe, we support the environment through a partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-profit organization working to reforest the globe. Their one-for-one program is an easy way to give back to the environment regularly and conveniently, as you grow your business. We’ve donated more than 250 trees to be planted through this program- and counting!
Another great network to consider joining is 1% for the Planet. As a member of this network, businesses must meet their high-bar commitment to become certified, plus donate at least 1% of annual sales or salary to support environmental causes.
3. Gain a widely-recognized CSR certification, such as the B Corps certification.
There is a growing demand among company investors and stakeholders for external verification of companies' claims about the success of their corporate social responsibility programs. Perhaps that’s because many companies claim to value CSR and sustainability, yet do not have specific policies or programs in place. There are countless CSR certifications and seals to consider, but some of the most popular and widely-recognized include B Corporations, ISEAL, LEED (US Green Buildings Alliance), EPA/DOE programs (Energy Star, Smartway, Water Sense, Safer Choice), and Sedex.
4. Donate a portion of proceeds from every sale to a charitable organization of your choice.
A partnership with a charitable organization can make a powerful statement about what you stand for as a company– and even help with brand loyalty. Studies show that customers who feel an emotional connection with a brand hold a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the brand 26% more than those who don't feel the same emotional connection.
Ideally, you should choose a charitable cause that’s related to your company’s mission or the products you’re selling. For example, 10% of the proceeds from our Support Black-Owned Businesses gift box is donated to the NAACP, and 15% of the proceeds from our Chemo Comfort gift sets go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Other gifts from Bestowe support organizations such as Direct Relief and Feeding America. We care about many different social causes, so we intentionally spread the love!
5. Source your products and services from small businesses and artisans in your community.
Most businesses, no matter how small, partner with different vendors to source a variety of materials and products. Rather than shop from Amazon, choose to partner with local businesses and artisans whenever you possibly can. Shopping local helps the environment as well as your local economy.
It’s important that your CSR policies and practices are not only internally focused but also external. Think about how you can encourage your network of partners to adopt more sustainable business practices. For example, here at Bestowe, we know our carbon footprint goes beyond our studio, so we ask our vendors to use natural, biodegradable materials when shipping to us.
6. Make your corporate gifting more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Corporate gifting, including gifts to employees, clients, and partners, is becoming more common practice for businesses of all sizes. When selecting gifts for your team members or affiliates, it’s important to choose carefully and think about CSR and sustainability. Do your best to minimize unnecessary waste, shop from local businesses and artisans, and go green with your wrapping and packaging. If you need more ideas, consult with a sustainable corporate gifting service like Bestowe!
Gifting Solutions for the Socially Responsible Business!
Thank you for reading along and making an effort to become a more socially and environmentally responsible business! For even more examples of CSR, check out our guide to sustainable business practices and policies.
If you’re looking for a socially responsible gifting partner that values sustainability, we’re here to help. Request a custom quote today to get started!