Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family recently announced that they would be donating their share in the company—about 3 billion dollars—to fight climate change. And beyond the fact that it’s an amazing act of corporate giving, it also makes complete sense.
Patagonia’s mission is based on the very thing Chouinard is trying to save—the earth. Every business has different values, so it follows that when you’re trying to get involved with corporate social responsibility, some causes will make more sense for your company than others. We’ll work through a couple of suggestions and businesses that are killing it in the social responsibility game and hopefully you can find a mission that speaks to you.
Sustainability is a huge umbrella, but for businesses, it usually comes down to two things—environmental responsibility and social responsibility. If your company is environmentally conscious, there are tons of ways to get involved.
You can start by looking at your own practices and seeing where you can cut back on waste or conserve energy. If you’re a retailer, see if you can sell reusable bags and donate a portion of the proceeds to an environmental charity. Many restaurants are using compostable materials these days, so if you’re in the food industry, that’s another way to cut back on waste.
There are also a number of ways to get involved with social sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This can include things like supporting local and sustainable farmers, working with fair trade suppliers, or getting involved with programs that help low-income families access healthy food.
Seventh Generation is a great example of sustainable business values and practices. The company, which makes eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products, has several initiatives aimed at reducing its environmental impact. These include using recycled materials in packaging, investing in renewable energy, and supporting sustainable agriculture.
Supporting the Local Community
If your business is based in a particular community, it only makes sense to give back. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to partner with local organizations that are already doing good work.
For example, if you’re a grocery store, you could partner with a local food bank and allow customers to donate items as they’re checking out. If you own a restaurant, you could sponsor a fundraising event for a local charity. And if you run a hotel, you could offer discounts to families who are visiting sick relatives at the nearby hospital.
Many businesses also choose to get involved with education initiatives. This can include things like mentoring programs, scholarship funds, or even just hosting events that help people learn new skills.
One company that’s doing a stellar job of supporting its local community through corporate social responsibility is USAA. The financial services company, which serves military members and their families, has a long history of giving back. Some of its initiatives include providing free financial counseling, offering discounts on products and services, and supporting military families through grants and scholarships.
Human trafficking, voting rights, safely-managed sanitation, better education—there’s no end to issues that could use your help. Maybe you’ve had a very personal experience that makes a specific human right the center of your business’s mission; that makes your corporate giving even more powerful. Your customers could be another source of inspiration for the human rights your business supports.
For example, if you have customers who are immigrants or refugees, you might get involved with organizations that help people adjust to life in a new country. If you have a lot of customers who are LGBTQIA+, you might support organizations that work to protect their rights.
At Zuloo, we’ve worked with some of the 2.3 billion people in the world who lack access to proper sanitation. When we realized how dangerous and difficult it is to relieve one’s self without a clean, safe space, we knew we had to help. So, we build sustainable toilets around the world and try to educate people about the global sanitation crisis. It’s important to us and fuels everything we do.
What’s Your Business Going to Be Involved In?
Now that you’ve seen a few examples of the types of social issues your business can get involved in, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do.
Remember, there are endless ways to make a difference. The key is to find an issue that resonates with you and your team and then come up with a plan for how you can help. With a little effort, you can turn your business into a force for good—and make the world a better place in the process.
If giving people a safe space to go #2 is near and dear to your heart, take a look at ZuLoo! Through our 242 program, we partner with businesses who want to donate 2% of their gross sales, 2% of their net profits, 2% of their revenue, or a unique combination of them all. Even if you’re not interested in donating, you can spread the word about our work and help us build toilets for those in desperate need. You can see some of their firsthand stories here: