For entrepreneurs, giving back to your community is a popular part of running a business. But I’ve learned you can’t be a copycat. Your staff isn’t dumb; they’ll see right through a feeble attempt to mimic the latest trend in modern corporate leadership. Here is how I implemented social responsibility in my workplace:
Step 1: I found my socially responsible co-workers.
Social responsibility should start from within. If I show up on Monday morning with a big announcement about “the new culture,” my staff will be resistant or even suspicious, and my initiative will atrophy and die as quickly as it started. But if the news comes from co-workers other than just me, and if it grows slowly, it will dig roots, become part of our daily culture and thrive.
Step 2: I helped one co-worker recruit others.
In the kitchen one morning, I found out that Elvia used to donate blood. We decided to donate together on our lunch hour. Later, I suggested she send an e-mail to the staff to see if anyone wanted to join. Each time she sends out a feeler, more and more people join. It’s a grassroots approach to getting your team involved with a good cause.
Step 3: I used the first charity as the reason to talk about more charities.
I used the blood bank experience as an opportunity to bring it up at the next staff meeting. I asked who already participates in charities, and who wishes they had time to participate in something? I was given suggestions for a toy drive, a food drive and a fundraiser. I then assigned the task of organizing the events to someone other than myself.
Step 4: I started with simple charity events in the office.
We like to throw birthday parties for folks. One time, a co-worker asked if their birthday party could be at the local food bank. So, we bagged carrots for a couple hours, and everyone loved it. By this point, volunteering was becoming an occasional activity in the offi ce. By starting simple, I encouraged greater participation among my staff.
Step 5: I made social responsibility a regular part of the workplace. After we had a good time at the food bank, we talked about making volunteerism a regular part of our workplace. I offered to take a full day each year and make it a volunteer day. It’s a weekday, everyone gets paid, and they nominate and vote for which charity to help. Promoting social responsibility within my workplace wasn’t a master plan.
It happened naturally and gradually, and it wasn’t forced on my staff. I found co-workers who exhibited the right qualities, and I supported them, which got other people interested. Also, we keep everything optional, which is important because not everyone gets interested, and that’s perfectly fine. Throughout this experience, I’ve learned that if you live what you preach and you’re sincere, you’ll motivate your staff to give back to the community in no time.