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New Guide Helps Startups Explore Social Responsibility Strategies

Submitted by: Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Research, Reports & Publications

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 – 12:28 PM EST


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sep. 30 /CSRwire/ - How can startups best engage with social responsibility? 

Through our work supporting companies and foundations to drive social impact locally and globally, we at Silicon Valley Community Foundation are often approached by startups asking an important question: How can we harness our energy and vision and turn it into social good?

Our answer is simple: Start with purpose.

To translate a company’s purpose into social responsibility practices, we compiled six strategies startups can consider. These strategies are outlined in our new guide, Starting with Purpose, and are based on experiences and insights of startups and industry leaders.   


Cultivate a Culture Committed to Social Change

As startups have multiplied and flourished, so have stories of “startup culture,” in which people have flexible hours, unlimited free snacks and catered lunches, permission to bring their dogs to work, and open-office seating side-by-side with their CEO. This vision has become something of a stereotype, but the effort many startups put into cultivating a strong culture is substantial – and when a culture includes empathy and awareness of social impacts, it can be an extremely powerful tool for building a commitment to social responsibility.

Connect with Local Communities

An initial step in creating a social responsibility strategy can be as simple as being a good neighbor. Social responsibility does not have to mean attempting to solve national challenges or donating millions of dollars. It can mean rallying employees to support local businesses or opening a company’s doors to the community.

Donate or Discount Products or Services to Drive Social Change

Many businesses have products and services that can help support nonprofit organizations just as effectively as cash donations can – and the products and services may even help nonprofit partners to do their work better. 

Lay the Groundwork for a Sustainable Supply Chain

Increasingly, interested consumers are asking purchasing questions like these: Where does this product come from? What environmental burden results from the manufacture of this product? Under what working conditions was this product developed? Knowing the business practices of partners and suppliers – and deciding how to influence them – is an important consideration for any startup’s social responsibility strategy.

Translate Diversity Values into Practice

While diversity is part of social responsibility, some people may imply that a commitment to diversity is optional. In fact, many startups believe diversity is a business imperative and necessary core value. We include it here for two reasons: The startup struggle for diverse talent has been widely publicized and scrutinized; and many of the startups SVCF spoke to are working to balance competition for talent and diversity. As startups work to develop or implement a diversity strategy, they should consider how to ensure diversity in their leadership, how to make diversity a priority and how to work with their communities to build a pipeline of talent.

Make a Public and Formal Commitment to Social Responsibility 

While some companies bake a social commitment directly into their mission (think of TOMS’ one-for-one model), others layer on more formal public commitments or adhere to business structures to build momentum behind their social impact strategies. Companies can consider a formal commitment such as Pledge 1% or certification as a B Corp to direct their social responsibility program. 

More details on these strategies are outlined in the guide, Starting with Purpose.

Startups looking for guidance in creating a social responsibility plan – to give back to the community, engage employees in meaningful causes, instill responsible business practices in operations, and more – are encouraged to work with SVCF’s team of social responsibility experts. For more information on how SVCF can assist startups, please contact donate@siliconvalleycf.org

For more information, please contact:

Sue McAllister Marketing Director
Phone: 6504505513


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