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Social responsibility: what it is and how brands can get started

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small-business-economy

While your business is hard at work bringing in the dough, how would you like it to leave a lasting legacy as well?

That’s the potential power of corporate social responsibility—or the model of engaging in practices that make a positive impact on society and the environment.

While donating money is a common method of exercising corporate social responsibility, it isn’t the only way of making a difference. Read on to learn some reasons for developing a more socially responsible brand, and some strategies for doing so.

Why should a brand be socially responsible?

Build a loyal customer base

In the past, consumers may have prioritized shopping with brands that offered great value for money and convenience. But times are changing.

Now, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor in consumers’ minds when they decide which brand to spend their money with.

According to a study by multinational technology company IBM, over 72% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible.

This has two implications:

  1. If your brand is socially responsible, then you may be able to grow a loyal following of customers who appreciate how you champion certain causes, apart from just trying to earn profits; and
  2. Such consumers may be willing to spend more with your brand as well, which can in turn increase your bottom line.

Appeal to younger, more socially aware audiences

During a study conducted by global purpose practice Porter Nelli/Cone, 88% of Generation Z individuals surveyed shared that they care about social and environmental issues. In fact, 90% of them believe that companies must act to help with these issues.

In other words, if your brand conducts socially responsible practices, and is seen to be doing so, then you may gain more of such socially aware consumers as customers.

Given their younger ages, such customers also have potentially a longer runway with your brand.

This means that if you maintain your corporate social responsibility efforts, you just might be able to keep these customers shopping with you for years to come.

Make the world a better place

Brands with established corporate social responsibility programs can sometimes be seen with suspicion.

After all, it’s all too possible that you’ve taken up certain causes because you want to be seen as a “hero brand.” But behind the scenes, you’re actually in it for the money. You don’t genuinely care for the causes you say you support.

Well, let’s not be too discouraged by such cynical thinking. Chances are that you have some causes that you strongly care about—whether for the marginalized, the needy or even for the environment.

And as someone who owns a business, what’s stopping you from trying to make the world a better place by devoting your business’ resources and earnings to good causes?

4 ways of exercising corporate social responsibility

1. Make donations to a local charity

Charities are hard at work making a difference to their chosen causes—but as non-profit organizations, they may need extra funds to keep their operations going.

So if you resonate with the efforts of certain charities, you can donate a portion of your revenue to help them continue with their work.

Last year, children’s entertainment franchise company The Pokémon Company International donated a total of $200,000 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Black Lives Matter.

“Here at The Pokémon Company International, we believe in friendship, inclusivity, and equity,” the company declared in a Twitter statement about the donation.

“These are values that anchor the Pokémon brand. There is no place for oppression within our community.”

Source: Twitter

The tweet was well-received by Pokémon fans, garnering over 250,000 likes and 60,000 retweets.

4. Volunteer in the community

Apart from donating money to a charity, what about donating your time?

This can be an especially meaningful practice. Because while it’s easy to write a check, sometimes what a charity needs is not more money, but an extra pair of hands to help with their work.

Volunteering your time—and encouraging your employees to do so—can also help open your eyes to what’s happening on the ground, and help you make more informed decisions on how to maximize the effectiveness of your brand’s CSR program.

Since 2011, multinational technology company Apple has supported employees’ efforts to volunteer with and donate to organizations whose causes they care about.

For every hour that an employee volunteers with an organization, or for every dollar that an employee donates to one, Apple will make a monetary donation to that same organization.

Called Apple’s Giving program, this program has helped funnel almost $600 million in donations, including more than 1.6 million volunteer hours, to more than 34,000 organizations as of December 2020.

Source: Apple

3. Treat your employees well

As the faces of your brand, your employees can be your greatest allies. Therefore, be sure to treat them as such.

This means giving all employees—even the ones at the lowest levels of your organization—decent, livable wages and benefits. All these may seem like an expense to your company, but they can go a long way in keeping your employees happy and turnover rates low.

For example, big-box retailer Costco is well-known for providing generous employee benefits.

It would pay its United States store workers at least $15 per hour, which is more than double the United States’ minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (In fact, Costco has recently raised its internal minimum wage to $16 per hour.)

What’s more, as the COVID-19 pandemic began rearing its head last March, the brand also paid its employees an extra $2 per hour to help them tide over potential financial difficulties.

Thanks to such generosity, Costco has been regularly recognized for its employment practices, such as being ranked 20th in Forbes’ 2020 list of World’s Best Employers.

4. Speak up during seasonal events you believe in

Every March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated to highlight the achievements of women and call for greater gender equality in society.

So leading up to this day, it isn’t uncommon to see brands posting social media graphics that declare their commitment to a more gender-equal world.

Here’s one from insurance company AXA Mansard, for example:

Source: AXA Mansard

Whether for International Women’s Day or for other seasonal events that raise awareness of social issues, you can also post similar graphics online to express your support.

Graphic design platforms such as PosterMyWall offer social media templates that make creating and sharing such graphics online easy, even if you aren’t well-versed in design.

Exercising corporate social responsibility is the way to go

For sure, most businesses are started with the aim of generating profits. But there is plenty of room for them to do good while they’re at it.

Contrary to popular belief, exercising corporate social responsibility need not be an unjustified strain on your business’ finances. In fact, doing so may just help boost your revenue as you gain a following from more socially aware consumers.

There are many ways for a brand to exercise corporate social responsibility too, from contributing donations to volunteering, and to expressing your stand on social issues. Even taking care to treat your employees well can make a big difference!

Pick your preferred methods of giving back to the community, and then start taking action to prove that you genuinely believe in the causes that you’ve aligned your brand with.

In these current times, how will your brand practice corporate social responsibility?

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Finance

Why Traders Should Never Miss Forex Trading Investment Opportunities

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Trading forex is a great opportunity to make money if you know how to do it right. Some of the top forex traders are often asked about tactics and tricks they use that have helped them to make great profits. Investment opportunities can be fully used only when you know how to turn such opportunities into profit.

What does it take to turn investment opportunities into trading profits? Here are some things which you can do to make a difference and have helped several people in making profits in the long run.

A Strong Trading Plan:

Ask any successful trader and you will be told that a trading plan is of utmost importance. One needs to plan quite systematically before trading or when one starts trading. This trading plan usually has a strategy which is followed with great caution. This trading strategy should also be tested, and adjustments made accordingly. If everything goes well, the strategy can be repeated whenever any opportunity comes along.

Managing Risk:

Capital management is an essential part of forex trading success. If any trader doesn’t know how to manage risks, the trader will not be able to make it long. No matter how lucrative the investment opportunities seem to be, a trader should not trade money which the person cannot afford to lose. It is extremely important to ensure that the risks are sensible because that will keep him going.

The Importance of Being a patient Trader:

If you wish to earn in the long run, you need to be patient. It does take time to develop any currency trading plan. It also takes time to develop different skills. Thus, any trader needs to wait for the right opportunities. If a trader hurries or rushes, the decision can be wrong which will affect trading.

The Mind has to be Clear:

Experts reveal that success and failure often depend on the mindset of the individual. If the trading psychology of the trader is not as it should be, profitability will become a distant dream. However, the sad part is that most traders do not consider this as a fundamental truth. There are many expert traders who do meditation or yoga so that they ensure that they have a healthy mind.

Disciplined Actions:

To be successful in any sphere of life, one needs to be disciplined and exercise caution. For a successful trading career, a trader should be consistent and should be learning regularly so that mistakes can be avoided. If a trader lacks discipline, it may lead to trading errors which will result in losses in the future.

Trading Journal Can Help:

There are many experts who suggest the use of trading journals. Such smart traders work as record keepers which helps them in future. For example, when they win a trade, they have everything recorded in the journal. Thus, they are aware how they are winning and why they are winning. Thus, this way they are aware of the strategies that can help them in winning trades and the strategies which can cause them losses.

If any trader can take note of all details such as different conditions for entry and exit, it helps in trades and targets.

Overtrading Can be Risky

At times traders are tempted to overtrade with the hope of making more profits. However, experts believe that overtrading should be avoided because it leads to trading mistakes and errors. Thus, traders need to ensure that they are patient and do not do things that will make it risky.

Thus, investment decisions should be made wisely and cautiously.

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Finance

Mongolia Shows Improvement in Management of Public Finances

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Mongolia’s management of public finances has improved, but further reforms are needed in some areas to achieve international best practice standards, a recent
World Bank assessment finds.

The recently completed Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA)report, which assessed the performance of Mongolia’s public financial management system against international benchmarks, concluded that Mongolia scored well in relation to access to public information, the budget preparation process, financial data integrity, and external audit.  In the application of international accounting standards, fiscal risk management, medium-term budgeting, and the use of performance evaluation to enhance government service delivery, further reforms are needed to enhance fiscal discipline, ensure resources are allocated as intended, and improve service delivery, the report found.   

“Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment provides an excellent foundation for Mongolia to measure its progress in driving improvement in its public financial management,” said Andrei Mikhnev, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. “The current report will also be used to assess the success of our current programs for supporting effective governance in Mongolia and in designing future programs.” 

The European Union and Mongolia have a long-term and broad partnership. The report demonstrates Mongolia’s willingness to further improve the management of its public finances,” said Ambassador-designate Axelle Nicaise, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia. “The EU will continue to assist Mongolia in its public financial management reform agenda, also with our budget support program”.

Mongolia has gradually undertaken reforms to strengthen fiscal discipline and the public financial management system, the report notes. The first phase of reforms between 2003 and 2008 established the basic elements of the system, including strengthening internal controls, cash management, and accounting and reporting. The second phase of reforms between 2008 and 2011 included improvements in fiscal policy, budget planning, and decentralization of roles and resources to subnational governments. More recently, Mongolia has been pursuing a number of initiatives to improve macro-fiscal management and government service delivery.

The report assesses reform progress over the last 5 years. Of the 31 indicators in the assessment framework, 12 indicators show improvement, 13 indicators are unchanged, and three have deteriorated.

The greatest gains since a 2015 assessment were in the areas of budget credibility, the predictability and control of budget execution, revenue administration processes, budget release processes, cash and debt recording, and payroll controls. Comprehensiveness and transparency, policy-based budgeting, accounting and reporting, and external scrutiny and audit were elements of public financial management that remained relatively consistent over time.

The World Bank congratulates the institutions involved in the progress made to enhance public finance governance.” said Alma Kanani, World Bank Governance Practice Manager for East Asia and the Pacific. “It is very good to see that the government’s continuous commitment to reforms is producing results.”

The assessment was made possible with financing from the EU-funded Strengthening Governance in Mongolia Project. The publication of the report coincides with a planned review and update of the public financial management reform strategy and action plan, and the assessment will provide an important input to the design of future reforms to further strengthen fiscal governance and public financial management.

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Finance

7 Business Lessons We Learned in 2021

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2020 was a year unlike any other. It saw the advent of the coronavirus pandemic that affected every nation on earth and plummeted the international economy. Several businesses crashed and had to depend on bailouts and loans. A lot of people lost their jobs, and countries went into recession.

Despite all that, company owners and entrepreneurs learned a lot of business lessons. The future of work changed permanently. Business practices and small business financing in the future will never be the same. 

1.      Remote work is the future

The pandemic brought out the usefulness, ease, and convenience of remote work. Several companies and government organizations embraced remote work, and it is fast becoming a norm. Even when lockdowns eased and the effects of the pandemic lessened, remote work was still a thing for several companies. Square, Twitter, and other companies have fully adopted remote work. Most workers mentioned that they preferred remote work compared to having come into physical offices. Hybrid models that combined both remote and physical work also emerged.  

As a company owner, this means that you can hire people from anywhere around the world for your business. You can hire people from third-world countries and still get premium service and the best of talents. This might cost you less than what you will spend for onsite physical hires. You’ll also save money on office space andsmall business financing. Your staff will save money on commute time and transport expenses. You only need to find the right tech tools like Slack, Calendly, and more.      

2.      Work meetings do not have to be physical

The pandemic massively boosted the popularity of online meetings. Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and other platforms became the official meeting channel of several companies, with Zoom being the biggest gainer.

“Mute your mic,” “Turn off your camera,” “Your mic is muted,” and other phrases became very popular. But once people got the hang of things, these meetings worked. Gone are the days of jumping on late-night flights and battling jet lag to attend business meetings across continents. Remote meetings work just fine.

With online meetings, you can better utilize your small business loans on other critical aspects of your business.     

3.      Diversify where possible

Several businesses suffered during the pandemic. The companies that were able to withstand the effects most were those that diversified. If diversification does not cause a strain on your resources or a loss of focus, go for it.

Before obtaining financial support for your small business, think of means by which you can perfectly utilize the money to expand your operation and diversify as needed.   

4.      Have business reserves and savings

A lot of businesses were forced to turn to their cash reserves after sales got hit by the pandemic. All ventures, from one-person businesses to giant corporations, were not spared. Companies had to be bailed out by the government and others had to apply for small business financing loans. The aviation, hospitality, and transportation sectors were the worst hit of all. Lots of workers were laid off, with companies losing talented staff that they had spent resources hiring, training, and onboarding.

Companiess now realize the extreme importance of having cash reserves and emergency backup savings.     

5.      Have a disaster relief plan in place

The fastest companies to recover from the effects of the pandemic were those that had a disaster relief plan in place. These companies were better equipped to deal with the disastrous effects of the pandemic. 

6.      Virtual workspaces will become a thing

Tech companies are now developing technology for virtual workspaces. These workspaces will include hardware and software that will foster closer connectivity among employees in remote locations. 5G, virtual reality headsets, AI-powered assistants, IoT, and other emerging technology will make this a reality. 

During the pandemic, companies like Duolingo held virtual office hangouts, cooking classes, movie nights, and more extracurricular activities using virtual technology.     

7.      Future businesses should have an agile culture  

2020 taught us that work should have an agile, flexible culture, and they must be willing to adapt to changes as fast as possible. Companies with an agile culture were the fastest to adapt to the pandemic. Flexibility allows an organization to be better prepared for crises and unexpected circumstances.  

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