In business environments, social responsibility plays a crucial role in customer relations, especially for small, local businesses who financially depend on their community’s loyalty and personal connection to their business. With small businesses, building ties to the local community through charitable involvements fosters local loyalty to the business.
Corporate social responsibility is “a commitment to improve community well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources” (Fogel). It involves several different aspects of community involvement, but its “main focus is to ensure a positive contribution is made to both the environment and community around the location where a company or organisation operates” (Boden). Because “small businesses account for 70% of the work force,” (Helmer) it’s essential for small business to have philanthropic causes in order to “improve brand reputation” (Mielach).
Although small businesses and large corporations both have social responsibilities,“micro-business owners will have a clearer understanding of factors affecting the area in which they trade because they are hands on in that business every day” (Boden). They also can“ more easily find inventive ways of collaborating with other small businesses” (Helmer).
Little Hands Design is a non-profit Community Interest Company with a focus on design education. Little Hands also has a bursary program for disadvantaged children and adults. They’re also collaborating with the Helen Bamber Foundation to help support refugees by providing a sewing class with free tuition.By acting as a local influencer through charitable involvements, Little Hands hopes to help start a cultural movement towards improvement.
The refugees who take the course with Little Hands Design are provided a creative outlet to express themselves, and the joy it brings them is “integral part of their emotional recovery.” Most importantly, “everything [they] makes feels special and that for once in [their lives], [they are] starting to feel special again too,” says Zara, one of the refugees who attended the class.
In addition to working with refugees, Little Hands Design participates in grassroots initiatives to help those in need. For example, Little Hands was involved in a group effort with craftivist collective to help provide aid after a textile fire in Bangladesh. Furthermore, Little Hands is an active participant in the Fashion Revolution movement, which encourages people to consider the cost of fashion in relation to the environment.
When Little Hands and other small businesses become involved with charities, it sets an example and inspires local community
members to follow suit. This fosters a sense of personal civic responsibility, which benefits the community as a whole. Furthermore, it encourages local community members to tackle issues that affect the community hands on rather than simply discuss and debate.
“Business owners…say they are most likely to focustheir efforts on helping the community starting with education,” especially Little Hands Design (Mielach). Little Hands Design has established connections with several local schools, which allows for students to attend themed workshops and project days at Little Hands. Furthermore, Little Hands has termly educational themes, such as zero waste design or recycling, which are linked to regular design competitions. When small business like Little Hands take on an active role in the education of the local youth, it benefits the long term development of the community.
Social responsibility for small businesses has many different facets, including community involvement and education. Most importantly, it’s about fostering connections between the local community and its small businesses that play a vital role in local development.