When you create a startup, you tend to focus on your product, your investors and monetization. Unfortunately, in the organized chaos that is a startup, corporate social responsibility often gets lost in the shuffle.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a catchall term used to describe a company’s efforts to improve the community and society in some way. In the past a company’s idea of CSR may have been to cut a check to some charity and call it a day. Now, with consumers flocking to brands associated with good causes, engaging CSR initiatives are needed more than ever.
Just this week, Insticator went to a career day event hosted by the Entrada Academy in the Bronx, educating students about technology and promoting the idea that it’s never too early to start thinking about a career in tech.
Brought to my attention by one of our team members, our team was able to set aside a budget and time to pursue this CSR opportunity. In a field with an unfortunately low diversity rate, having members of the Insticator team present technology as a career and all of its benefits to a younger generation will help create a healthier and more diverse pipeline of future tech employees. These few but impactful hours of company time spent at Entrada allowed us at Insticator to engage with and make a direct impact on our local community, while associating our brand with a worthwhile cause.
In the tech startup space, getting your business off the ground is daunting enough. So, spending precious company time picking up trash in the park while wearing matching t-shirts (a trite and outdated form of CSR, I might add) may not seem like the most profitable use of time. Contrary to that belief, CSR initiatives can be invaluable to startups, and those managing or working at a startup need to understand why they should incorporate CSR into their business plans early on.
1. Build better relationships
Forging connections and relationships is at the foundation of startups. They are the bread and butter for startups. Engaging in CSR in your early stages shows that your company cares, not just about profit, but about your community as well. If you have a strong relationship with your community, then you’re obviously going to have a rich connection with your customers and clients. Having these deeper and more meaningful connections with your community can help establish wholesome and profitable roots for your burgeoning startup.
2. Leverage your marketing and image
With consumers, especially millennials, concentrating their purchases on brands that engage in philanthropic efforts, brands are scrambling to incorporate CSR into their business strategies. Roughly 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies. Implementing CSR early on can give your startup a cutting edge and positively develop its reputation early rather than later, which can drive conscientious consumers to your brands CSR provides your company with the media coverage it needs, but can only be successful if you’re in for more than the exposure.
3. Boost employee morale
Employee turnover at startups is notorious. Keeping an employee long-term can be more difficult than hiring one. We all want to do something great and important with our lives, and working for a company that prides itself in doing good and giving back can add an extra sense of purpose to employees. If a startup prioritizes CSR, it can potentially attract new hires, retain current employees and establish a culture within your growing team. Even better, employees will be more productive and inspired if they have a higher feeling of self-worth that comes with CSR.
4. Keep your investors happy
You can’t put a metric behind CSR but some investors, shareholders and company advisors may view a startup as healthy and thriving if they are taking a few hours away from the office to interact with the community. Like your consumers, stakeholders will appreciate being connected to a company that’s not only profitable, but also focused on giving back. Treating CSR as a long-term strategy shows your investors that you are growing and intend to grow further and deeper.
5. Make the world a better place
Marketing, public image and monetization aside, CSR activities make the world a bit brighter. It’s as simple as that. If your company manages to make the smallest of positive impacts, then you’ve achieved something worthwhile. Startups are all about accomplishing the impossible, and CSR can give your company the drive to keep going and to continue giving back to your community.
At the end of the day, corporate social responsibility must be a pillar in your business strategy. Not only can it produce remarkable results for your company, but for your community as well. Startups are the scrappy ones, vying for consumers and investors to give them a chance. The world is already tough as it is, so it’s harder to make people aware of your product or service. With CSR you can make the world a little bit better and a little more pleasant, while making it easier to get your company the recognition it deserves.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.