How to Prioritise Social Responsibility in Your Developing Startup 

How to Prioritise Social Responsibility in Your Developing Startup 

Having Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in a startup is essential to seal trust and build relationships with customers and investors. As great as it is, prioritising CSR in a startup also comes with various challenges. 

To illustrate, one of the biggest challenges startups face is getting off the ground. Startups need to ensure their profits are flowing to make sure the business runs well. Therefore, carving out resources to give back can seem like daunting prospects or even a luxury reserved for larger corporations. Startup founders need to weigh down which one is more necessary for the good of their company since investors are likely to invest in a startup that has better profitable strategies than social responsibility strategy

In another case, fulfilling a startup’s social responsibility can give a great result to the development of the business. Social responsibility helps attract consumers better, especially green consumers and communities. IBM 2020 report disclosed that sustainability has reached a tipping point as consumers increasingly embrace social causes. Consumers today prefer products and brands that align with their values. In the survey, 6 in 10 consumers said they are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. 71 percent of respondents believed sustainability is important for them. Hence, dimming startups’ involvement in social responsibility might not be good for business’s sales. 

Satisfying consumers without upsetting investors

To help bring social responsibility priorities into focus without disenchanting inventors, startups should begin with a discovery process to identify how their business directly impacts communities and people around them. Founders need to understand what shared value they have in order to build up a strong social responsibility movement around their communities. Generally, there are three assets startups should have to ensure their business is fulfilling communities guidelines: 

  • Visions. Startup founders and CEOs have the power to inspire and mobilise the entire workforce in relatively short order. If leaders are committed to social responsibility, the company should take full advantage of this to shepherd its program from concept to execution. 
  • Passionate workforce. Startup employees are generally energetic, passionate, and enthusiastic. This energy can be leveraged and used to engage employees in volunteering, environmental practices in the workplace or in providing feedback on program concepts. 
  • Emerging brand. A startup’s brand should have its own identity and deliver an authentic social responsibility commitment. 

See also: Why Should You Join Startup Communities? 

In order to showcase commitment to social responsibility, founders must be able to answer the following questions. Answering these questions will give you a sense of the social issue you want to invest in and how your team can contribute to make a change. Your startup team should prioritise areas where you might be at risk of negatively impacting stakeholders and turn these negative states into positive social change. 

  • In what ways does the business impact (both positive and negative) key stakeholder groups, including employees, the environment, local communities, civil society, customers, and suppliers?
  • What programs or practices could help enhance or mitigate those impacts? 
  • What are the business’ core strengths from products to people to unique expertise? 
  • What are the pressing needs in the major communities where the business operates? 
  • How do they intersect with the business strengths identified? 
  • Are competitors practising responsible business?
  • How might the company differentiate itself? 
  • What resources are available to execute social responsibility strategies, from manpower to product to funding? 

Getting consumers to purchase sustainable products or use sustainable services 

While consumers report a positive attitude toward eco-friendly products and services, they are still unwilling to follow through with their wallets

A study showed that although consumers are more aware of today’s environment and social problems, they are more concerned about purchasing products that are good in performance, money savings and design rather than products’ sustainable aspects. This is among the reasons why many startups shift from environmentally-friendly production to consumer’s good production fulfilment. But this does not mean that startups should turn to ignore social and environmental aspects in their development all at once. Looking at many different angles, social responsibility remains vital to every business success, not only in terms of visibility but also for the environment and society. 

Academics have learned much about how to align consumers’ behaviours with their stated preferences. Academics suggested that startups should consider the following strategies to get consumers to purchase environmental-friendly products and services. 

  • Use social influence. Harnessing the power of social influence is one of the most effective ways to elicit pro-environmental behaviours. For example, telling online shoppers that other people were buying eco-friendly products led to a 65 percent increase in making at least one sustainable purchase. 
  • Shape good habits. The key to spreading sustainable consumer behaviours is to break bad habits and encourage good ones. Three subtle techniques that help shape positive habits are using prompts, providing feedback, and offering incentives. 
  • Leverage the domino effect. People like to be consistent if they adopt one change in the future. 
  • Talk to the heart of the brain. How you communicate your products or services matters. When getting ready to launch or promote a product or campaign, marketers often have a choice between emotional levers and rational arguments. Either can be effective – but only if certain conditions are met. 
  • Favour experiences over ownership. One way to build eco-friendly consumer behaviours is to build elements of sustainability into how products are used and ultimately disposed of. 

Lastly, to make sustainability resonate with your consumer behaviours, academics suggested that companies work to understand and fulfil consumer’s needs and wants, along with the barriers and benefits to realising behavioural change. Doing the A/B testing to truly get the best tactics for your startups is advisable. And founders need to ensure their business fundamentals are strong enough to connect with consumers and face challenges. 

Read also: Startup Should Have Social Responsibility Initiative from Day One, Here’s Why