Global markets are stuck in a close battle between positives, negatives, and general uncertainty airing on the side of caution. However, going by Morgan Stanley’s stock market outlook, the year ahead may still offer modest returns for the proactive entrepreneur. As a result, it’s not uncommon for up-and-coming businesses and brand-new startups to shift their focus onto innovation and trend analysis, making the most out of emerging consumer demand to secure profits and establish their customer base.
However, while there are merits to following these metrics and analyses, these fail to paint a complete picture of what consumers expect in 2022 and what other impactful factors actually influence purchase decisions, specifically corporate social responsibility. And while emphasizing the bottom line and making ends meet should take priority, companies that fail to recognize the importance of social responsibility and giving back to their target consumers will face more consequences than they realize.
Affordability and Innovation Aren’t the Only Ways of Adding Value
On paper, affordability and innovative features may seem like the best value-adding characteristics and processes companies can invest in today. While this holds true to some extent, it’s not the only way of adding value. You see, in the case of corporate social responsibility, customers want to know where and how their products are made and the associated brand image and activities of the businesses they’re buying them from.
As a result, cutting corners and lapses in ethics or standards for the sake of productivity can severely hurt your bottom line without you noticing, which makes CSR all the more essential in 2022.
How Small Businesses and Startups Can Practice CSR
Luckily enough, CSR strategies and programs are relatively easy to implement, especially for small businesses and startups that have yet to finalize the details of their business framework and can still squeeze in a few changes into their core functions. Specifically, we recommend starting with investments in a safer work environment and quality equipment, a commitment to environmental sustainability in your operations, and increased involvement with customers and the local community.
A Safe Workplace With Quality Equipment
For most people, a safe work environment may seem like a no-brainer, but instead of meeting the bare minimum of OSHA regulations, it is best to go a step further to accommodate increased productivity and safety for your employees. For example, investing in industry-standard equipment with zero compromises is a lot safer than cheaper alternatives, so buying something like customized laser-cut furniture and machines is always the better option.
Fulfill Your Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
Apart from quality equipment and safety, environmental sustainability is a standard that most modern businesses follow. However, while aiming for carbon and waste neutral operations is the goal, we recommend going past expectations and becoming climate positive by investing in other environmental benefits. For example, you could source from reputable suppliers or partner with local environmental programs to better meet your sustainability requirements in a CSR strategy.
Involve Your Customers and the Local Community
Last but not least, an easy, accessible, yet very effective method of transforming into a socially-responsible business is by involving your customers and the local community in your business efforts. Everyone loves transparency and a bit of participation because it goes a long way in building trust and consumer confidence in your brand. For example, you can be vocal through social media or directly donate to your local communities.
What Are the Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility?
Although we just briefly touched on CSR’s ability to add value to your products and services, its benefits actually go beyond gaining more customers and building a customer base. And among the most important benefits include brand differentiation in saturated markets and increased talent attraction and retention.
Brand Differentiation in Saturated Markets
When it comes to starting a business in 2022, one of the biggest barriers to entry is the sheer amount of competition that already exists in a given market. As a result, some entrepreneurs are reluctant and try to find a gimmick or niche that sets them apart. But, little do most people know that corporate social responsibility achieves the same effect in brand differentiation.
Increased Talent Attraction and Retention
Another common problem most businesses run into today is the prospect of onboarding new talent and keeping their current employees. And since being scouted for bigger companies is a risk, there’s only so much small businesses can do. However, socially-responsible activities and the positive brand image that comes with CSR are excellent at talent attraction and retention.
Socially-Responsible Businesses Have Better Chances at Success
At the end of the day, numbers and trends alone can never guarantee success no matter how hard you try. And in 2022, more consumers are looking forward to businesses that value corporate social responsibility and understand the necessity of giving back.