We live in a time when simply starting a business for our own wealth, power, and recognition is just not going to cut it. There is so much need in the world today that we simply no longer cannot separate commerce and social responsibility. Moreover, the consumers of today are simply more aware of the types of businesses that are worth supporting—and those are companies that are aspiring to do well by doing good for others.
This is why corporate social responsibility (CSR) exists, and why aspiring entrepreneurs need to make advocacy the heart and soul of everything they do. If you are launching a new company or business and trying to think of worthwhile advocacy for your CSR, here are some ideas to inspire you.
Support for first responders
One advocacy you can consider is support for first responders, which includes firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, law enforcement officers, and others. Here are some alarming statistics and why the private sector could lend its support to first responders:
- Studies show that first responders are at an increased risk of developing mental health issues like substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because they are often exposed to distressing and traumatic circumstances, and yet they don’t always gain support after the fact.
- Many countries underfund their emergency services. Canada, for example, suffers from chronic underfunding, which makes them unprepared for the aftermath of a disaster.
If the pandemic and the climate emergency have taught us anything, it’s that the real heroes of society are the first responders. Consider putting first responders at the forefront of your start-up’s advocacy. Based on their needs, you can focus on one of two things or both:
- Giving them access to trauma-informed mental health care, so they don’t just sweep things under the rug and pretend like nothing’s wrong, or
- Providing them with the funding they need, so they can invest in high-quality gear and equipment like fire-resistant or FR clothing, new ambulances, and other first-aid equipment.
First responders don’t usually get their flowers, but more than anything, they need support to be able to do their job well. In a time when we’re not entirely sure what can happen next, they are the backbone of our society, so businesses will do well to extend support to them.
When celebrated pop star and actress Selena Gomez first announced the launch of her makeup brand, Rare Beauty, a lot of people rolled their eyes because she entered the scene at a time when the industry was already saturated. Everyone and their mothers were trying to take a piece of the lucrative beauty pie, and so many stars were coming up with their own makeup lines to the point where even the most die-hard makeup and skincare aficionados were getting sick of it.
But when Selena explained that she was also launching the Rare Impact Fund alongside the brand, everyone retracted their criticisms and realized the aspiring makeup mogul was actually trying to do something good. Selena announced that 1 percent of all the proceeds from her makeup products will go to the fund, which exists to provide underserved communities with access to quality mental health services. The brand’s goal is to donate $100 million to the fund.
Today, the brand is a favorite among online beauty gurus, not only because the products are legitimately good, but also because of Selena’s advocacy in creating it. And since we live in a time when we’re also battling a loneliness epidemic, especially among Generation Z, resources for mental health are sorely needed.
Empowering marginalized communities
Another important advocacy is centering on marginalized communities. Here’s the tricky thing, however: Consumers know when a brand is just doing lip service in terms of actively fighting for marginalized and underserved communities, which is why business owners need to truly be passionate about this for it to work. Here are some marginalized communities that deserve help and dignity:
- People experiencing homelessness
- Members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are also experiencing poverty or other financial difficulties
- Members of the disabled community, especially ones who are navigating an ableist work culture
We can extend practical help by meeting their felt needs and helping them find a permanent way out of their current situation. We can also help amplify their voices so that lasting changes will be made. Consider partnering with non-profit organizations that are already working with these communities so you can learn more and know where your business can be true of service.
True visionaries are not just in it for the money. Find worthwhile advocacy to change the world, and not just your own situation.