Unfortunately, 2021 so far hasn’t brought with it the promise and positivity we usually associate with a new year. We’re not quite out of the woods in terms of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a productive year when it comes to social value and positive global change.
The world is ready for more positive action and greater momentum when minimising inequalities, reducing climate change, and giving back to those most in need. A global pandemic doesn’t reduce the increasing need for all of us to do better by other people, our communities, and the world at large.
CSR and social value go hand-in-hand with COVID-19 recovery, something that will definitely continue in the coming months. Dealing with this pandemic is a distraction, yes. Has it knocked a lot of businesses for six and spread budgets and resources much thinner than we’d probably like? Absolutely. But, there’s still plenty we as individuals and – more importantly, as organisations – can be doing to make an impact. Let’s take a look at how you can go about generating social value in 2021.
Doing more with less
Over the past twelve months, too many industries have been left in the lurch. Money’s been tight, budgets have been slashed, and whole departments have found themselves without the staff or resources to continue business anywhere close to a normal level. In the second quarter of 2020, UK GDP shrank by a record 19.8%, only improving gradually to 8.2% by September. And now, lockdown number three (or what feels like 18) is only wreaking more havoc.
That’s why a prominent issue for all organisations generating social value in 2021 will be how to make a difference on a budget. They’ll have to figure out ways to have an impact while still being significantly stifled by a lack of money and resources.
But this isn’t all doom and gloom. This isn’t about any one business changing the world. Instead, it’s about making gradual, yet consistent change. Changes that are small, clearly defined, and well within your organisation’s reach. Start with what you can afford.
When every business does this, as well as encouraging their suppliers and partners to do the same, we’ll start to see real, long-lasting change. Every individual initiative and decision compounds over time.
It’s about identifying initiatives that won’t eat into your budgets and resources. Being smarter with the decisions you make – such as using your data and reporting to inform which initiatives are worth continuing or which maybe aren’t performing as expected. And identifying what’s even relevant or not anymore. The landscape we’re in continues to change, and so will the goalposts of social impact.
Balancing purpose with passion
Businesses, at the end of the day, are still businesses. Despite our altruistic tendencies and good intentions, business ultimately boils down to profits and growth. Especially when times are as tough as they are now.
As such, it’s about balancing your passion for your business with a wider purpose. How can you grow your business while also serving a greater purpose to the wider community, society, or world?
Although it’s not always the most straightforward, well-travelled path, there are ways to achieve both simultaneously. After all, consumers are 4 times more likely to purchase from, and 4.5 times more likely to champion, a company with a strong purpose. Finding that sweet spot where business growth and social impact can rise together will be a key goal for any business interested in generating more social value in 2021 and beyond.
Tying into the above point, aligning your business success with purposeful efforts also enables you to achieve more with less cost to your actual business. Or, at least, you offset any expenditure by simultaneously boosting profitability and income for your business.
Engagement and motivation trickle from the top down. This year, take greater responsibility for your organisation’s impact and bring people along on the journey with you – be that colleagues, customers, suppliers, or your audience. And this is the same whether you’re years into a CSR strategy or just starting out on your social impact journey.
We’re currently seeing news cycles dominated with conversations surrounding ethics and responsibility. Questionable UK government contracts. Endless lockdown woes. Vaccine rollouts. Or even the fallout of the US election and questions around Trump’s White House. Everyone needs to take a little more responsibility.
In such an unstable climate that feels like make or break for the future of society, as businesses, we need to be the change we want to see. While we can’t change the US’s political system or intervene with how our own government is handling the pandemic, we can take responsibility for our own impact, own up to our mistakes, and create a more ethical, radically transparent business world.
We know the start of this year feels like an extension of the turbulent 2020, but there is so much opportunity for things to get better. Trust us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more resources that will help you create your social value roadmap for 2021, including events to sign up for and ways to maximise your value on a budget.
At Impact, we make measuring, analysing, and reporting on your social impact easier than it’s ever been, allowing you to make even more of a difference. If you have any questions or would like a demo, get in touch on 0161 532 4752.