It could be a good idea for your business to think about incorporating a social responsibility strategy or a giving strategy to give back to the community in some way - whether this is through financial support, giving time, resources or sharing knowledge. Consumers and the general population are beginning to turn to more ethical and sustainable brands, and to support businesses that care about their impact and their contribution. People want to know that a business they are supporting has good values and operates with integrity. And you want to work somewhere that has a conscience and has a heart.
But giving is not just about what people will think of us. Or to make more money. We don't give to get. Giving should never be done with the intention of getting something in return. If we are doing it for that reason then we are doing it for the wrong reason.
The giving in and of itself is the return.
And when we give from this space, then that is when we experience the real benefits and returns of giving. Real giving - it cannot be contrived, it is not a tick the box exercise, it just does not work that way.
So, the important question we need to be asking ourselves and our business is WHY are we doing this? What is the intention behind our desire and our action?
A growing number of businesses and corporations are becoming increasingly ethical in their operations by encouraging their employees to volunteer, or even choosing to partner with a charity and giving back a percentage of sales. B1G1 (Business for Good), is an example of how giving can be embedded into your business operations. CEO's are spending nights sleeping rough to raise money and awareness of homelessness, brands are sourcing products that have a tick of approval from sustainability organisations and consumers are wanting businesses to take more responsibility in the community. Many businesses are partnering with smaller charities, such as Rafiki Mwema and Share the Dignity to not just support the actual work of the charity, but to help raise awareness and increase support for the cause.
CECP’s Giving in Numbers found that in 2016, 61% of companies offer paid-release time volunteer programs, encouraging employees to give back to their community or a specific organisation and paying them for it! Work place volunteering helps to engage employees, improve corporate culture and team building and shows that your business values the ethos of giving back in some way or another. However, there really needs to be an element of mindfulness and purpose behind it all.
Volunteering or partnering to help a not-for-profit organisation should never be just a tick box exercise.
In an interesting article on this topic, published by the Guardian in 2014 Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Zen Buddhist master, explains that if executives are looking into getting involved in this type of mindful/compassionate work for selfish reasons, then they are not experiencing 'true' mindfulness. "If you don't feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness."
Thich Nhat Hanh, met with world tech leaders to spread the core message to use their global influence to focus on how they can contribute to making the world a better place, rather than on making as much money as possible.
A social responsibility strategy has to have meaning, purpose and relate to the values of the business and to the staff and leaders within that business, or else isn't it just a brand or organisations marketing scheme?
If you are a business owner, or an employee who wants to incorporate some kind of organisational social responsibility, you must first look at the values and beliefs of the business. Do you want your businesses to be more environmentally sustainable? Here is a great resource to check whether your work place is ticking all the sustainability boxes. If you want to give back socially, check in with your mission statement, and reflect on company's story. It could help to use the following questions:
- How does working with this charity organisation fit in with our beliefs and values?
- What are the reasons behind supporting this specific charity?
- Why are we deciding to go all organic, fair trade or plastic free?
- What do your employees want/what is important to them?
- What is the goal and aim for this partnership?
For example, if your business sells beauty products to women, and the mission of the business is to provide women with products that help boost their self esteem, and make them feel beautiful and worthy, then you may want to consider partnering with an organisation that collects and provides disadvantaged women with sanitary or beauty items. By investing in an organisation that aligns with your business's values, you start to become more connected and mindful of the impact your business has on the world.
Ask your staff what matters to them and what they want to see the business get involved with, as they will in turn be more motivated to lead volunteer days, or run programs that give back to the selected organisation and feel like they are doing something that helps others or contributes to a better world.
The Zen master says we need to understand that if there is a good aspiration, employees and leaders will become happier because helping society to change, gives life a meaning.
Rather than work-life balance, our philosophy is about Life Integration, which is the process of seamlessly integrating wellbeing into every element of your life. Your work is not separate to your life: your work is part of the living whole of your life.
The Happiness Hunter is based in Melbourne, with a team of coaches and consultants available across Australia.