Thanksgiving is near, and for many businesses, that means thanking clients, partners, employees, a community and supportive family and friends. But giving back as a business doesn't have to be just a holiday theme.
Some Chicago businesses, professional leaders, and organizations are contributing to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement and incorporating community-building and philanthropic initiatives into their missions, mantras, and even business models.
CSR is an effort companies take upon themselves to appeal to the ethical and social needs of its audience and the broader economy, population, or environment it serves, or serves within.
While CSR has become a widely recognized descriptor of business practices, the intent and impact go beyond responsibility, or obligation. Perhaps “social involvement” may more accurately depict the efforts companies large and small are taking to reduce waste in production, increase environmental sustainability, consider its impact on community, and prioritize people and society while maintaining profitability.
There’s proof that consumers are paying attention to company ideals too. According to Nielsen’s Global Corporate Social Responsiblity Report from June 2014, 55 percent of consumers will spend more for products and services from companies committed to making a positive impact.
If you’re looking for ways to give back year-round as a company, or as an employee, Chicago has several organizations and resources where you can connect with like-minded individuals and learn about how to increase your social impact.
One such group is Illinois B Corps., which represents Benefit Corporations, or companies that are “certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”
Their website highlights that there are over 1,000 Certified B Corps globally, including well-known companies like Seventh Generation, method, and Patagonia, and nearly 15 in Chicago.
According to Nancy Goldstein, founder of Compass(x) Strategy and one of the Chicago B Corps' community leaders, “the group has been working on showing local business leaders how they can build a better business."
"We want to inspire people to think beyond short term shareholder gains to long term stakeholder gains. That means doing what is right for your customers, your employees, the environment, and your community,” she said.
To find events and resources about building a business that gives back year-round, see below:
Rebecca Otis is a digital marketing strategist and consultant, speaker, and blogger that focuses on using simple marketing tactics to make a significant impact for businesses. You can find Rebecca on Twitter and Google+.