Corporate social responsibility (CSR), is a term gaining more and more traction and attention in the ever-evolving corporate environment. Perhaps the terms social enterprise, profit-for-purpose, triple bottom line, and B Corporation, also ring a bell. Whether you’re a seasoned social impact champion or looking to further understand the CSR meaning in business, this blog post is for you.

So, what is CSR, anyway? According to Investopedia, CSR is

“A self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. To engage in CSR means that, in the ordinary course of business, a company is operating in ways that enhance society and the environment instead of contributing negatively to them.”

In addition to the obvious benefits of doing business in an ethical and compassionate manner, CSR initiatives can also affect revenue, loyalty, and talent acquisition.

Consumers and employees are becoming more and more discerning about where they shop and work, making it crucial to understand what exactly is driving this population to make their decisions.

75%

According to Dan Schawbel of Forbes, millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and Cone Communications says 64% of millennials won’t take a job if the company does not have socially responsible values. This is your employee base.


Cone Communications
also states that over 90% of Millennials would
switch brands to one associated with a cause. This is your customer base.

90%
The truth is: If you're not doing something, you're falling behind

In today’s business landscape, corporate social responsibility is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Like keeping up on the advances in technology or trends in customer service, it’s imperative that your business remains privy to the evolution of CSR.

Social responsibility and environmental sustainability do not need to be at the core of what your business offers to participate in the movement. You don’t need to be a recycling company or a nonprofit—you can be a B-Corp Certified law firm, a marketing agency that champions volunteer hours for their employees, or a coffee shop with a robust reusable program.

Anyone can make socially responsible business decision and stand out amongst their competitors.

CSR EXAMPLES

Implementing conscientious business ethics and social responsibility into your business strategy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different initiatives are more impactful depending on the industry or business model. Below are a few of the hundreds of ways you can make small changes to become more socially responsible and make a positive impact:

  • Waste Management
  • Discrepancy in suppliers (Do they also champion socially-responsible practices?)
  • DEI guidelines
  • Recycling/composting practicing
  • Sourcing renewable energy
  • Sourcing renewable materials
  • Implement a recycling and composting initiative in your office
  • Eco-friendly production processes
  • Donations to social/environmental organizations in your local community and beyond
  • Employee volunteering initiatives
  • Carbon offsets
  • Employee safety and wellness
  • Implement pay transparency
  • Plant trees
  • Updated Parental Leave policies

CSR CERTIFICATIONS

While you can, of course, create and uphold your business to your own CSR standards and practices, there are plenty of certifications you can achieve to ensure you are being held accountable and making real impact. To incorporate social responsibility, corporate sustainability, and ethical practices into your business, check out the following programs and accreditations:

left image: group of

CSR EXAMPLES FROM SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES

GREEN CIRCLE SALON (TEC Canada Member)

  • Climate Neutral Certified to be environmentally responsible
  • Donates scrap hair to socially impactful initiatives. In 2016, the scrap hair helped build dog beds for the people displaced by the Fort MacMurray fires.

IMPACT WEALTH

  • Pledges 1% of sales to make an environmental impact with 1% For the Planet
  • Actively working to increase the proportion of young people in the workforce by receiving training through their paid internships program for students from high school through to postgraduate

RESPECT GROUP INC (TEC Canada Member)

  • Gives back +10% of our annual revenues to Canadian not-for-profit organizations
  • B Corp Certified

BEN & JERRY’S

  • Uses Forest Stewardship Council Certified paperboard packaging
  • Sends their dairy waste to methane digestors and generates it into renewable energy

SEZZLE

  • Plants a tree for every new & active Sezzle user
  • Provides free financial literacy tools and tips via Sezzle University and other strategic initiatives

ABEEGO

  • Running a near zero-waste production process, they use their material waste to create mini campfires
  • B Corp Certified
  • Listen to TEC Canada’s The Leadership Standard Podcast and learn more from Abeego Founder & CEO, Toni Desrosiers

A CHAT WITH SOME SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE TEC MEMBERS

Both B Corp Certified and brimming with CSR efforts, we sat down with Shane Price of Green Circle Salons and Wayne McNeil of Respect Group Inc—a couple of the many socially responsible TEC members—for their insight on the movement.

Left: Headshot of Shane

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

Shane Price of Green Circle Salons:

“Our desire to do good now includes a focus on shifting the strategic mindset of salons to a long-term environmental benefit. It is about how we can transform the way stakeholders think about their businesses. It’s almost about moving away from « I operate a salon that makes people look beautiful, and I should take care of the planet » to « how do I transform my business to be ABOUT taking care of the planet ». Making people look beautiful is simply an output of that. This is the transformation we’re trying to make. As we achieve this, everyone wins.”

Wayne McNeil of Respect Group Inc:

“Being able to look in the mirror, as a company and as a team of passionate individuals and say we sincerely “practice what we preach”!”

 


WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE A SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS?

Wayne McNeil of Respect Group Inc:

“It totally fits with our goals of improving culture in sport, schools, and the workplace. It highlights our focus on “giving back” while telling our employees and customers, by the way we treat them, they are a priority! When we speak to potential and existing clients, the B Corp accreditation immediately answers what type of company Respect Group is and what our corporate priorities are. To me, that is the great thing about being a B Corp, the questions are easily answered, and not by us. By the B Corp seal of approval.”

Shane Price of Green Circle Salons:

“Our team has made a choice about the kind of impact we want to have in the world. We made a simple choice that in our business model, EVERYONE is involved, so EVERYONE wins. If our decision doesn’t benefit ALL stakeholders, we know it’s not for us. It makes life and decision-making straightforward.”

 


FOR BUSINESSES LOOKING TO ADOPT MORE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES, WHERE DO YOU SUGGEST THEY START?

Shane Price of Green Circle Salons:

Step 1: Get Clear on what matters most to you or the founders, and know that today, if your product or service isn’t in service to both people and the planet, it’s likely not sustainable.

Step 2: Create purpose and passion—once you are clear on what’s core to you from a values standpoint, use purpose and passion to bring it all to life. Without purpose and passion, you cannot ignite a movement. And without a movement, you cannot challenge the status quo.

Step 3: Talk to B-Corp! They provide a transparent framework from which to evolve your business for the better and make sure to get your entire team onboard and engaged in the process.”

 


WHAT SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PRACTICE ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

Wayne McNeil of Respect Group Inc:

“Our commitment, through our programs, to move culture in a positive direction for the many clients and partners we serve.”

Shane Price of Green Circle Salons:

“I am proud of our team when we began offering our salon community the opportunity to become Carbon Neutral Certified. That, combined with the Zero Waste to Landfill Certification we achieved in 2019, means that when a guest visits a to look beautiful, they can also feel great knowing their hair cut or hair color was performed in a carbon-neutral way without contributing to Global Warming. A true win-win for our industry and the planet.”

 


HOW DID TEC CANADA HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR CSR GOALS?

Wayne McNeil of Respect Group Inc:

My former TEC Canada Chair was insistent that Respect Group get accredited and held me to it!”

Shane Price of Green Circle Salons:

“Through TEC, we were introduced to Larry King and Lila Davis. With their guidance, we transformed our company culture by introducing and implementing the Coachlike Leadership model to the company and by creating a space for breathing meditation in our monthly town halls. This empowers the staff in our organization to drive our social corporate responsibilities in their everyday decision making and to walk the walk in our company’s mission and vision »

READY TO GET STARTED?

Here are a few simple steps you can take to get the ball rolling:

  • Explore the programs and accreditations above
  • Talk to other certified or socially responsible companies
  • Ask your team what causes and sustainable practices are important to them
  • Determine which practices are right for your brand and people

Explore the endless possibilities of socially responsible practices you can adopt and join the movement to do business in a way that enhances society and the environment—your customers and employees will thank you!

 

LOOKING FOR SUPPORT TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH RESPONSIBILITY & INTENTION?

Become a TEC Canada member today and learn how to make better decisions, create real impact, and become a real leader. 

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