Just because your home business is small, it does not mean that you don’t have a role to play in ethics and social responsibility. Every business, big or small, as with every individual, needs to play their part in ensuring they operate in both an ethically and socially responsible way. This becomes more important when you own a business, as you are likely to work with more people, either locally or globally, and many of the decisions you make are ones you may not be accustomed to. Therefore, this guide will help you to stay on the right path.
Why is it important to be ethically and socially responsible?
There are several reasons as to why it is important for a small business.
Firstly, it will save you a headache in the future by following correct procedure. Any irregular activity, either through transactions or your tax return will likely be followed up quickly. To ensure that you give yourself the easiest way to operate, you need to ensure your business follows the regulations and guidelines set out.
It will improve the appeal of your business. As a consumer, we want to know that we are doing the best we can. To ensure that your business stands above the rest, you need to set it apart by advertising the socially responsible aspects of your business.
It will result in better customer satisfaction. Your customers are what makes your business, and so it’s important that you both treat them right and make them feel valued. By being transparent and acting ethically, your customers will surely be as loyal to you as you are to them.
How to be ethically and socially responsible
Create a safe workspace
By far the most important factor working from home is creating a space that is safe. This raises two important considerations – legal requirements of the business and your own personal safety.
If you keep cash on the premises, ensure that it is stored safely away at all times. If you have guns or other dangerous items, use a certified gun safe like the ones reviewed here.
Safety extends beyond this. Ensure you are not sitting too long at a time and that your computer and furniture are positioned in a way that is comfortable. You may be surprised just how many workplace injuries happen this way.
Ensure you have proper registration and licenses
To ensure your business is acting responsibly, you will need to ensure that you hold the required licenses and registrations for your business. This includes registering your business with local regulatory and tax authorities. Depending on what your business does, you may require further permits/licenses (such as for importing goods) in addition to this.
Ensuring you have the proper licenses required for your business will save you a lot of hassle down the road. It will also ensure that you are paying appropriate tax, that you are following the law and operating as a socially responsible business.
When you get proper registrations and licenses, you appeal to your customer as a legitimate business. Your customer will trust your business and follow through. At the end of the day, we all look for security and legitimacy as consumers.
Paying proper wages
Although it can be an attractive option to pay the minimum amount to get work done (such as in freelance writing), this is not always the best idea. Whilst the cost difference may be minimal to you, it may be large to someone else.
Paying people properly not only paves the way for ethical behavior, but it also increases the likelihood of receiving quality work. There can be a big difference in even a dollar for many people, so it’s worth considering. If you employ staff, it is important to follow the minimum wage regulations set out by government agencies otherwise you could be liable for penalties.
There are several advantages to affiliating yourself with a charity. The main reason is obviously the benefit that it can bring to the lives of others. Even a small donation can make a difference, and although it may not be realistic early on, when the business progresses there will surely be an opportunity.
There is also the benefit of being recognized for your charitable donations. This recognition can increase your businesses identity as a socially responsible player and set you apart in the competitive world of business.
Donating to charities may also have tax benefits, which can increase your savings.
It is always attractive to set yourself apart from the rest. For many people, this is the reason that they get into business. They believe their idea is different, better, and will benefit others, and of course, themselves. However, this can also lead to overly exaggerated claims (which we have all become accustomed to), which don’t necessarily match with reality.
One thing that all people hate is being lied to or cheated. This can destroy your reputation and prevent you from developing a solid business. To avoid this, it’s necessary to be as authentic as possible.
It is very important to make legitimate claims and follow through with them. This does not mean that you have to tell everyone everything, but being upfront and transparent with your customers will save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting the environment, including a small business. Part of operating a home business means being responsible for the decisions you make, perhaps even things you’ve never had to consider. This could mean scrapping paper for an email-based system instead.
Being at home may increase your emission output, such as by using the air conditioner and heater (although you could argue this is offset by the gas you save from driving to work!). Whatever the case, reducing your usage of these as much as you can will ensure that you are not unnecessarily wasting energy.
Simple steps, such as making sure the packaging you use are not harmful to environment, can make a difference. This could include saying no to plastic bags. Deliveries could also be organized in such a way you that you can collate all deliveries to one area, saving both gas and time.
Being ethically and socially responsible does not end there, are there is always more that can be done to benefit both your business and society.