Why Small Businesses Should Take Social Responsibility Seriously
We live in a world of unprecedented opportunity, where thriving both holistically and in within the traditional definitions of success has never been more real. As a high school dropout from a small Oxfordshire town, I always feel the utmost gratitude for being part of a society which made my journey to date possible, whilst being impatiently excited about what the future holds. A society where I can start and grow a small business that ticks my personal boxes whilst fulfilling my professional aspirations. The ‘start up’ culture that facilitates entrepreneurship and allows passionate, driven individuals to build their work around a life that they love really is an incredible part of our time. Yet in the pursuit of personal goals it’s easy to forget about those less fortunate, and about the global impact that we have on the environment. Current vital hot topics notwithstanding.
According to inequality.org, 70.1% of the world’s population holds only 3% of global wealth, meaning that just under 30% of the population own the remaining 97%. And we all know that economic disparity is steadily increasing. And whilst globalisation and a mobilised workforce are both great for us as individuals and our countries and cultures, the impact that this is having on our planet is as scary as the need to address it is urgent.
CSR Must Exist Across Business Of All Shapes And Sizes
Small businesses are the backbone of every economy and together, are a force to be reckoned with. The Federation Of Small Businesses in the UK states that the combined annual turnover of UK SMEs was £1.9 trillion in 2017. 51% of all private sector turnover in the UK.
CSR policies and programmes have been a key part of large companies for many years. No self-respecting organisation can operate without one. But as small business, we have a duty to think about how we can, individually and collectively, play our part in working towards a world where we are mobilised to address some of the key issues of our time and of the future. I know the stresses and pressures of running and growing a small business as much of the next person. This has been the subject of many after-work beers at our WeWork base in east London. Especially amongst those of us who care as much about impact as we do about profit.
The discussion always centres on where we can start and what we can do that’s easy, manageable and inline with our personal interests and professional goals.
A Business That Works For Everyone
At The Rebel Agency one of our key mantras is ” A Business That Works For Everyone: Our Clients, Our Collaborators, Our Community”. This means many things to us and to our network, and as a business that works with clients around the world our community has come to be borderless and non-geographic. It’s come to mean thinking carefully about how we can deal with the environmental impact of our activities wherever it is that we work, and about how we can have a sustained and measurable impact on those global citizens who need it most.
For almost a decade I’ve made frequent visits to Calcutta, India where I’ve developed a deep and lifelong relationship with and NGO called The Hope Foundation, and some of the children and young adults that I have committed to supporting so that they can thrive against all odds and in spite of the situation into which they were born. This was a personal endeavour for a long time, until I realised the increased impact we could have if I started thinking about it as part of our business. This is imminently being formalised as we put the finishing touches to a charitable foundation of our own, which will collect funds in the UK to support a dedicated project in the city and I’ll be writing about this soon.
But for now, let’s keep it simple.
We recently signed up to a fantastic organisation called One Percent For The Planet, committing one percent of our net revenues to support non-profits that are working on some serious global issues such as climate change, clean oceans, pollution and access to safe drinking water. This was the easiest thing we’ve ever done and we’re really excited about tapping in to their community of members and even collaborating on some projects.
In addition to this, we’ve committed to running a match fund for all our clients, so we have the potential to donate an additional percentage of revenues to organisations of our own choice and ultimately, to our own Foundation. Clients have the opportunity to donate a percentage of a project fee themselves.
Two percent of our turnover seemed achievable and realistic, whilst allowing the team and our clients to engage with some really impactful organisations in a simple and effective way. Of course as a growing agency, our cashflow is often something we have to watch closely, but we’ve never been more sure that this is the right thing to do and haven’t looked back since making the commitment.
It Has To Be Genuine
With so many crucial and often critical challenges facing our immediate communities and the world at large, there is something for everyone and as small businesses, we have the power to collectively have a sustained impact on the world. I believe it’s time we all take our responsibilities seriously and, if we scratch beneath the surface we can find ways of getting involved with causes that matter to us, whilst putting them at the heart of our businesses for everyone’s benefit.
We can all find something we care about, and with a little thought and commitment, together we can have such an impact wherever we wish.
We’d love to hear from other small companies and learn about what you’ve done to do your bit, how you’ve managed this efficiently and effectively, without the burden of administration and without hampering cashflow.
Drop us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.
Ed and the Rebel team x