There is a common misconception, or myth, among Small Business Owners that social responsibility only applies to corporations and large businesses.
Every time I hear this, I immediately ask the question back, “WHO SAYS it applies only to Corporations and Large Businesses?” And without fail, every time, I get crickets.
Because no one says that. Seriously, no one actually says that. I've spent hundreds of hours researching social responsibility. Read thousands of books and articles. Dug through pages and pages of results on the internet.
Nowhere have I found someone that says, “Social responsibility only applies to Corporations.”
However, it's a limiting belief – a myth – that a surprising number of Small Business Owners have. But it's easy to understand why this common myth exists. It's all about perception.
The Term “Corporate Social Responsibility”
Social responsibility, in general, is the belief that a business can be profitable and contribute to the greater good or social good beyond its standard business operations.
The concept has existed since the late 1800s and started with early industrialists and philanthropists. In the early and mid-20th century, social responsibility was embraced by larger businesses and corporations with the resources to implement programs.
The first definition of “Corporate Social Responsibility” is attributed to Howard Bowen in 1953 (if you want to read more about the history of social responsibility, I included some of my favorite sources at the bottom of this article).
As more corporations embraced social responsibility, “Corporate Social Responsibility” became the standard term, often replacing “Social Responsibility” entirely.
It's About Perception
It's that simple.
If you hear someone say, “Social Responsibility only applies to Corporations,” it's because of the PERCEPTION people have.
They see, read, and hear the term “Corporate Social Responsibility,” so often that they make the very understandable assumption that social responsibility only applies to corporations.
And it's simply not true.
Unfortunately, what you find online doesn't help with his myth (the following data is from November 2022 when this blog was published).
If you google social responsibility, you'll get 1,270,000,000 results with people, on average, searching for this 60,500 times per month. If you look at the first two pages and exclude the paid ads, you'll find 17 results. Of these 17, 8 have “Corporate” in the title or description. However, if you dig deeper and open all 17 pages, 15 of the 17 pages talk almost entirely about Corporate Social Responsibility.
The FIRST Google result even says the following word for word: “As it applies to business, social responsibility is known as corporate social responsibility (CSR)” as if that is the ONLY type of social responsibility. I CRINGE reading that.
It's easy to see why some people have this perception. However, it's only a perception.
Businesses of ANY Size Can Implement Social Responsibility
Implementing social responsibility involves contributing to the greater good beyond your business. That's it. Doing good more than is directly related to your business. And any business, of any size, can do that.
If you believed this second myth about Small Business Social Responsibility, hopefully, you no longer do. Let me say it once again…
Any business, no matter the size, can implement Social Responsibility.
So yes… your Small Business can embrace social responsibility. You CAN do more good through your business. If you choose to.
The trick is learning HOW to do it easier and more effectively (which is why I created the Small Actions Framework). OR eliminating other myths or beliefs that may still be holding you back.
6 Most Common Small Business Social Responsibility Myths
This article discussed one of 6 myths or limiting beliefs that prevent Small Business Owners from embracing social responsibility. You can watch a free 40-minute training to learn about all 6 of the myths and why they are not true:
Cheers to doing more good!
Interested in the History of Social Responsibility?
I recommend the following resources depending on how much detail you want:
- Brief Description: Corporate Social Responsibility: A Brief History (online description published by the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals)
- Detailed Article: The Origins of Corporate Social Responsibility (an article written by Eric Chaffee and published by the University of Cincinnati Law Review in 2017)
- Published Book: The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility (Part II – A History of Corporate Social Responsibility), by Archie B. Carroll in 2009