Social responsibility can be a fantastic way for small businesses to build strong brand allegiance, especially when the activities they undertake have a positive impact on the communities around them.
Some of the biggest brands in the world have shown a strong commitment to social responsibility in recent years, with the Digital Marketing Institute highlighting cases like the consistent focus of Johnson & Johnson on reducing its environmental impact over the last three decades, through to Wells Fargo's ongoing commitment to pledge 1.5% of the company's annual revenues to charitable causes each year.
However, you needn't be the size of Google to make a difference; businesses both large and small can have a positive impact on the people and places in their area by embracing the ideals of corporate social responsibility.
What does social responsibility mean?
Social responsibility is a framework of actions or behavior that defines how an organization carries out works to benefit society at large. It’s often the bedrock of a company's values and lies at the heart of what makes up their brand identity.
What can we learn from Lyft?
The car-sharing industry has faced considerable scrutiny in recent years and companies like Lyft and Uber have had to work hard to restore their image after accusations of a lack of worker/customer safety and bad practices have left many consumers with a sour taste.
Lyft in particular has responded to this criticism and has taken steps to promote itself as a much more responsible business. Indeed, the company's VP of marketing Melissa Waters told Fast Company that Lyft has committed to a range of initiatives designed to restore the firm's image and show it’s truly committed to making a positive impact on society.
She cited an ad created by the business last year featuring Jordan Peele and Tilda Swinton, which saw the pair piloting a space capsule and reminding passengers that "it matters how you get there".
The ad was a nod towards the responsible nature of Lyft's car-sharing enterprise, as well as highlighting the excellent service that the brand wishes to offer all of its customers.
Purpose at the heart of social values
Lyft continues to place the idea of social responsibility at the heart of its business, fostering an internal business culture which is:
- Environmentally conscious
- Socially responsible
- Builds communities
For example, in the wake of President Trump's travel ban aimed at curbing illegal immigration into the US in 2017, coupled with competitor Uber's decision to refuse to participate in a related strike at JFK airport, Lyft donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union.
When asked why Lyft had made the donation, Melissa Waters explained:
It highlights the importance Lyft places on supporting its staff and ensuring the wellbeing of everyone associated with the business. At the same time, the firm remains committed to promoting more environmentally-conscious forms of transport, as well as initiatives like the Ride Safe program to ensure Lyft users get home safely after a night of drinking.
In the end, businesses of all sizes can make positive change to their local communities and can help better safeguard their staff and protect against adverse environmental impact. As we've seen in the case of Lyft, a company that pushes the responsible nature of its business can go from strength to strength.