Why being socially responsible will help your business succeed

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Small businesses are the heart of the high street, anchoring local knowledge and resources.

They make up the majority of businesses in the UK and the economy cannot grow without them. My organisation, Trading for Good, passionately believes that successful businesses are responsible and make strong contributions to social and economic development at a local level.

Responsible business practice can create real advantages for smaller businesses. It’s an investment that can pay off in the longer term, and should be seen as part of the modern model of doing business well.

Measuring the social good your business does

Trading for Good measures the social good businesses do in five key areas:

1. Young people – How businesses help young people into work

2. Environment – How businesses improve their impact on the environment

3. Charity and communities – How businesses support charities and communities in their local area

4. Employee engagement – How businesses make life better for their employees

5. Supply chain – How businesses work better with their suppliers

By addressing some or all of these five areas of social responsibility, you can build long-term consumer trust, helping your business succeed.

How your small business can benefit from being more socially responsible

Growth – Being more socially responsible can help you get a marketing edge over your competitors to help you grow. Social value is also now a key element of applying for tenders from larger business and the public sector.

Recognition – People in communities and charities you have helped will want to say thank you and will be more likely to use your services in the future.

Reputation – Your employees and stakeholders will be proud to be involved with a good business, and more people will want to work for you and use your services.

Promote – You can build local trust in your business by promoting your reputation as a business that cares. In the 21st century, customers who are now more than ever aware of scandals and world events want to do business ethically.

Top Tips for a small business owner

1. Don’t be shy in promoting the good that you do – Your customers will be interested to see the good things your business is involved with.

2. Share your knowledge – You already know about running a business, one of the good things you could perhaps do is mentor a local small charity or social enterprise.

3. Keeping your employees engaged and happy is so important, for everyone’s motivation. Have a fun day out that raises money and does some good. Get involved with a local charity in a way that involves a team activity.

4. Raise funds and engage your customers and suppliers. Fundraising is a great way to let your customers and suppliers know you are all about doing good as well as being successful, and is also a great way to market your values.

5. Help a young person gain a positive experience of the world of work and inspire someone to perhaps start their own business – contact a local school and become a speaker

Ensors Chartered Accountants

One business that Trading for Good has helped show their social good is Ensors Chartered Accountants, who also happen to be AAT members. Ensors are very enthusiastic about supporting charities and communities in their local area.

Ensors employees have been encouraged to get involved with local charity events such as organizing and taking part in charity cricket matches, doing a 42.5km relay run with several members of staff, and entering charity football tournaments. Since joining Trading for Good, Ensors has donated almost £5,000 to good causes.

The organisation also helps young people into work by recruiting student accountants. They particularly look to attract young people who are leaving school after A-levels, who are looking to gain qualifications without going to university. This year they’ve recruited 15 new student accountants.

Ensors’ activities have benefitted them hugely; helping them connect with their local community and helping their staff build bonds together. They are the type of activities any business can do. Could being more socially responsible be included in your business plan?

Kay Allen is the founding director of Trading for Good, a new growing network of small businesses with a focus on social responsibility. She has also served as a Commissioner on both the Disability Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She will be discussing how businesses can account for the good they do at the AAT Annual Conference this Saturday May 16.

Kay Allen is an entrepreneur and passionate advocate of social justice and the founding director of Trading for Good.

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