Startup founders face many decisions in the early days – how to price their products and services, who to hire, when to launch. When you’re focused on fundamental choices like these, there’s a good chance that social and environmental responsibility may be the last thing on your mind. But ignoring sustainability in the early days of a company is not only a mistake – it’s a missed opportunity.
Baking social good into your startup gives you a competitive advantage. A recent Nielson study found that 66 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands – up from 55 percent in 2014. And it’s not just your customers. 78 percent of millennials say corporate social responsibility (CSR) directly influences whether they would work at an organization (Cone).
Building a responsible company will help you acquire customers and the best talent – and it doesn’t require a major budget. Here are 9 ways to get started.
Think about the issues that matter to you and your brand, perhaps because of the nature of your product, the location of your business or the unique issues facing your industry. Decide what you want to focus on and set goals so you can appropriately allocate resources and measure progress.
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2. Involve the team.
No matter how many employees you have, it’s a good idea to talk to your team about social responsibility and get input on what they’re passionate about. The companies with the strongest CSR programs are the ones that give all stakeholders the opportunity to participate. Giving your team the chance to help shape your social good initiatives will lead to higher employee engagement with CSR efforts and support retention.
3. Volunteer your skills.
Having a social good program doesn’t mean you have to write big checks to nonprofits. There’s a good chance that your employees’ skills could be a major help to a local organization, whether that means helping build a website, consulting on a nonprofit’s marketing plan or designing collateral pro-bono. Catchafire is a great resource for finding skills-based volunteer opportunities in your respective community.
4. Make operations eco-friendly.
There are plenty of office and company policies you can instate to help reduce your team’s impact on the environment and promote sustainability. Consider purchasing recycled furniture, ordering snacks in bulk (less packaging), gifting your employees with reusable water bottles, and ensuring your heating, cooling and lighting systems are set up for optimal efficiency. If you manufacture, take a look at your packaging. Are you utilizing the lightest materials? Are they recyclable?