As a business, you need to ensure you do enough in terms of your corporate responsibility. Not only is it important to give back to the environment, considering you as a business are likely to generate a lot of emissions, but this can help to improve your brand reputation. More and more, consumers are valuing companies that are ethically responsible and who care about the work they do and the impact they have on the environment. They will choose companies that are responsible over companies that are not. Take Starbucks, for instance. Whether it’s tax avoidance that consumers are concerned about, or the billion paper coffee cups that clog up landfill, many customers avoid their morning coffee in Starbucks and choose to shop elsewhere because they don’t believe in the ethics of the company.
And of course, they have the choice to do this. Many other coffee shops are out there to choose from, so consumers ultimately have the power!
So, as a self-employed person, small business or SME, you’ll want to do your bit. Here’s some ideas:
Write a business code of ethics for your company: Anyone that shops with you or works with you can read it on your website. It should outline conduct on ethics, values, environment, and other issues such as diversity and employee respect. It’s free to do and is an important first step.
Commit to protecting the environment some way: This can be through planting a tree, recycling more often, or using sustainable materials. Google, for instance, have focussed lately on renewable energy. Read more about that here. You don’t have to be a big player, though. Think small and it can make a big difference.
Advertise your work: Make sure you tell people what you’re doing – how else will they know? Fruitful Office, who provide fruit baskets to companies across the UK, proudly communicate their commitment to corporate responsibility across their website and on materials they send through the post. They say, “We are proud to run a fruit tree-planting campaign: for every fruit basket we sell – we plant 1 fruit tree. This helps to mitigate the effects of global warming, deforestation and provides an income support to local communities in Malawi, Africa. Every 3 months we send our clients an update of how many trees their team has planted.”
Get behind causes that are meaningful for your company: see what charities need supporting or how you could help out in the local community.
Check all your products thoroughly: Your products must be safe and they also need to comply with current laws and regulations. It may help your business to apply for ISO accreditation. Keep an eye on what you’re buying and from where. Are your suppliers’ ethics in line with your own? If not, you may wish to disassociate yourself from that supplier.