How small and medium businesses can still have a massive social impact

The topic of social value can often take a very wide look at the issue. We view it at large, on this global scale, and can tend to look at the biggest, flashiest examples of companies trying to make a difference. We even did it ourselves in our last blog. When looking at how partnerships can help your social value efforts, we talked about huge names like Google, Heineken, and Johnson & Johnson.

Don’t get us wrong, their efforts are greatly appreciated. But when you look at these goliaths, it can be intimidating. How does a local small business compete with that? And when you look at a framework like the UN’s SDGs, it’s these worldwide goals. How can a local builder in Bury make such a change?

Well, you won’t. And that’s okay. Working towards social impact can be small scale. Your efforts might just be a drop in the ocean when you compare yourself to Google, but they will change a life. So let’s look at some examples of other small and medium businesses who used their position for good.

Note: we’re going to look at this through the lens of the UN’s SDGs. This is just illustrative to show how you can contribute, but the framework you use doesn’t really matter. And whether the examples seem too small or large scale for you, this is something that can easily be scaled to suit your operations.

Decent work and economic growth

This is SDG number 8 and involves inclusive and sustained employment for all. By hiring people, you are already contributing to this. By paying staff, you play your part in our country’s economy. And the fairer the wages you offer, the more you boost people’s capabilities to add to our economic growth. But it can go further than this, as it does for London catering company Social Pantry.

Sustainability is baked (no pun intended) into the entire business.

Their USP is their socially conscious approach to food. That doesn’t mean you can’t replicate it, specifically the part where they commit to hiring ex-offenders.

By doing this, you provide the inclusive employment touted by SDG 8. You give employment opportunities to those who would otherwise find it hard to do so. Thankfully, this one already seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. 61% of businesses say they anticipate hiring ex-offenders in 2023. This is something you can do today – and you don’t need to be Google to do it!

Quality education

Education is incredibly important. And even though we’re a first-world country and it may seem as if this is something we’ve solved, there’s always more that can be done. Like with the last SDG, we want education to be inclusive. So when staff at Gateshead-based Mediaworks gave their time to transform a school for kids with special needs, they were doing just that.

By painting classrooms, tidying outdoor spaces, and pruning unsafe foliage, they were helping to create a welcoming, safe environment for a community that can go overlooked.

This is something your business can achieve by promoting volunteering opportunities. Mediaworks let staff take time out of their working day to volunteer. You can do this and hit on any of the SDGs. It could be a food bank, cleaning our green spaces and beaches, canvassing for money – any effort that contributes to a cause. All it needs is your committed support.

No poverty and zero hunger

We can’t go through every SDG, so let’s finish off with two that are incredibly relevant in the UK at the moment. In England alone, 271,000 people are dealing with homelessness, including 123,000 children. So one IT firm in Merseyside gifted 20 laptops to help formerly homeless people stay off the streets and find training courses and job opportunities.

This would contribute to SDG 1 (no poverty) by supporting those who need a boost up the economic ladder.

Another concern in the UK is the growing use of food banks. In 2021/22, Trussell Trust donated food parcels to over 2 million people. These institutions always need help, which is why Swansway Motor Group donated £17,000 to their food bank partner, Wrexham Foodbank. This contributes to SDG 2 (zero hunger) by keeping more people fed. It’s that simple.

Both of these are achievable for your organisation. Do a food drive, or even just a cash donation drive. Encourage staff to volunteer their work time to food banks and homeless shelters. Partner with a local charity just like Swansway did. Take these tiny steps at a local level to make a difference.

Your social value efforts don’t have to lead to some global change. They can do so much more for the people closest to you. And when we improve our local community, are we not improving our own lives in the process? By lifting others up, do we not lift up ourselves as a whole? Isn’t that reason enough to strive for something?

Doing more social good becomes easier when you can see the difference you’re making. Track your efforts with ease and visualise the value of what you’re doing. To find out more, get in touch with us on 0161 532 4752.