It seems that as corporate culture got shadier, people started to take more responsibility to be ethical consumers. The basic idea that social responsibility can be built into business practices grew. More and more people are expecting the companies around them to behave ethically and take responsibility to the world around them. So what does it mean to have social responsibility in the world of social entrepreneurship?
• Behave ethically in your business practices. We all know by now of Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” corporate slogan. This can apply to all types of businesses. Behaving ethically will help your customers trust you, and want to support your business.
• Be sensitive to the environment. This means both good eco-practices, as well as how your business impacts those around you. You might already recycle, but how else can your business be respectful to the local community? Should you start using solar power or other renewable resources? Can you start using hybrid vehicles for deliveries?
• Cultural sensitivity is important. Different communities have different values. Take time to learn about the community that your business is located in, and respect their local customs. Ask questions and learn from the answers. This can provide many benefits over time.
• Be transparent. Good intentions are one thing, but you must behave in a clear manner to have customers understand and trust your goals. If you are hiding business practices, that is a sure way to make customers not trust what your company is up to. Have a business plan and by-laws that are easily accessible and easy to understand.
• Take responsibility. If you make a mistake, own up to it and explain what you are doing to fix the problem. Having good communication can help make this easier as well. No one likes people that can’t admit to their own mistakes. Admitting to them and showing that you are taking steps to change things will make people continue to support you, even through difficult times.
• Believe in your mission. If you don’t believe in your mission, you won’t work to make your company better. If you don’t believe in your mission, maybe you should consider changing your mission into something you do believe in.
To have a successful business, you can’t take things for granted anymore. You have to respect your customers, and listen to complaints. Answer those complaints clearly, and change things if they need to be changed. Don’t forget about why you started the business in the first place. Reexamine your goals, and make sure that you are living up to your own expectations. Remember that you have an impact on the community around you. If you have pride in what you are doing, the rest will follow suit.