A Startups Guide to Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility or CSR has become an important buzzword in the business world. If fact it’s an important practice that can set a business apart with research indicating a positive and statistically significant relationship between CSR and profitability.

Millennials, especially, place significant value in the practice — 86% using it as a deciding factor when choosing a place of employment. But for others, it’s a term that’s left a bad taste in their mouth, considering that numerous companies have used it as a PR tactic. 

So how does a company implement CSR with care and create truly meaningful initiatives? This all starts with understanding what social responsibility is in the first place and who it’s for. To start, social responsibility is not just for large corporations with deep pockets. In fact, every company (regardless of size), should swe socially responsible initiatives into the fabric of their business from the get-go — we’re talking about startups. 

If you’re an entrepreneur or startup founder, you might be wondering how social responsibility differs from business ethics and how you can give back as a business when you’re just getting off the ground. 

Startup social responsibility can take many different forms. For example:

  1. Get your board of investors on board — If you’re a startup that’s acquired VC funding, you’ll want to make a clear case to your investors about how giving back benefits your bottom line. If you can get your board of directors on board with your initiatives, you might just be able to get a budget for certain initiatives. 
  2. Startup social responsibility doesn’t have to break the bank  — If you’re a startup with limited resources, you can offer your employees paid volunteer time off (VTO). Giving employees paid days to provide volunteer services or taking a company-wide VTO day is a great way to practice startup CSR without impacting your budget. 
  3. Lean on your community — Perhaps you want to put together a charitable event and donate any proceeds to a cause. Only you don’t have the budget to put together this kind of event. Try asking for help from a local venue or local restaurant to donate food or a location for the evening. 

Of course, these are just a few ways that startups can implement socially responsible initiatives. To learn more about CSR for startups, Embroker put together this business ethics and startup social responsibility guide that details everything from advice on how to prioritize CSR to examples of companies that have done it best. 

Visual: How to give back when you’re on a budget

startup social responsibility examples

Visual: Social responsibility in action

CSR examples

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit bfarrell.com