How to incorporate Social Responsibility into your business model

Incorporating social responsibility into your business model may seem like a difficult feat, but there are some simple and effective ways to start making change. While the main goal of some businesses is to produce profit, it is becoming ever more pertinent in today’s business climate to incorporate social responsibility into your day to day activities. What can make your company stand out in such a competitive environment is that you are not just operating to make money, but to generate a positive impact on society.


Here are five ways that one can incorporate social responsibility into their business model:


Applying the correct culture and values within your firm and achieving a unity in state of mind across all stakeholders is the first step to implementing a socially responsible business model. Another step companies can take is to source talent with the same values. Employees that share similar values will be much more effective in the implementation of socially responsible goals. Alternatively, firms can look within their own structure and utilise certain skills of employees that can be put to the benefit of a community. For example, a law firm providing someone with financial difficulties legal representation pro-bono.


The one-for-one model allows that for every purchase of one of your products, you donate a product/service or financial aid to someone in need. Tom’s Shoes is the best example for adapting this model. For every pair of shoes a customer buys, Tom’s shoes donate a pair to someone in need. This model ensures consumers feel good about their purchase, while companies are impacting the lives of those in society. The economies of scale gained from double production may outweigh the cost of giving away products.


In today’s economy, the short term renting rather than the purchasing of an asset has increased immensely. Consumers are becoming aware that it doesn’t make sense to purchase an asset you might use on occasion when you can rent it for your short term needs. An example which emerged in recent years is GoCar, the car sharing company that allows consumers to rent vehicles on a need basis. It means one can drive when they need to without having to dish out the expense for a vehicle. GoCar’s vehicles can be rented at extremely affordable prices and offer energy efficient vehicles. This structure has many environmental and financial benefits and has completely disrupted business models.


You can look at your supply chains and judge whether they could be sourced more responsibly. The most notable example is Fairtrade, who’s logo can be seen on a number of products such as fruit, veg and coffee etc. Choosing a substitute supply chain may possibly have an initial negative impact on profit but could see higher consumer engagement in the long run due to the positive social impact you will be creating. Alternatively, it could influence the decision of your suppliers to challenge their business strategy and act in a more socially sustainable way. In ensuring ethical practice is achieved across the board, firms can reward those who impact the community positively and demand better practice from those who do not. 


Some firms may struggle to come up with innovative ways to implement socially responsible tactics into their day to day activities. One solution can be to partner with a social enterprise or charity. This provides benefits to all parties involved; a firm is acting more socially responsible while charities and social enterprises have increased funding and access to resources, resulting in improved care to those who need it. A great example of such can be made between Enactus and its many partners. Companies provide funding for organisations such as Enactus who then in turn facilitate the creation and growth of hundreds of social enterprise projects worldwide.

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Now take a step back and look at how your company is operating. Evaluate your supply lines and ask yourself can products/services be sourced more responsibly? Consider a 1 for 1 model and if it’s economically feasible. Rent as opposed to buying in order to decrease the wastefulness of assets. Partner with an organisation that is already doing meaningful work in the community. But first and foremost, change the value and culture within so that all parties are aligned and striving for the same goals. There are many ways to incorporate social responsibility into your business model, and in today’s economy it’s more important than ever that organisations embrace a way of doing so!


Liam Redmond