The Intersection of Business and Community Impact
By Alejandra Guzmán
Click aqui para español- > La intersección de los negocios y el impacto comunitario
Working in the intersection of business and community impact has been my passion. I have seen how business practices make a difference and communities advance through corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be considered a self-regulating business model that a company implements to hold itself accountable. By doing this, they recognize the impact they have on society, the economy, and the environment. CSR can take different forms depending on the industry. Typically these practices include specific programs to address community issues and volunteer efforts. Companies benefit from boosting their brands while helping society.
Working at CEMEX, a multinational construction company, I discovered the power that CSR has to influence policy, create products and services to cater to community needs and provide a systemic change in leadership. I witnessed how the quality of life of thousands of people resulted from corporate social responsibility projects. Implementing CSR programs at CEMEX resulted in community access to construction materials for affordable housing, an international alliance to support Mexican youth’s access to higher education, and the integration of people with disabilities into the workforce through policies.
In 2020, Google issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the most significant sustainability or green bond issuance by any company in history to fund environmentally or socially responsible projects. They are also conscious about how technology has been an essential ally during the pandemic and committed to getting critical information to keep families safe and healthy. Google partnered with Apple to provide technology that can help fight the spread of COVID 19. They offered help to businesses and have helped government and non-profit agencies run important announcements through their “Ad Grants Crisis Relief Program,” including vaccine-related content.
Social entrepreneurship happens when companies take a step further and design services and products that create a social benefit while supporting their bottom line.
Social entrepreneurs pursue social innovation and transformation in different fields such as education, health, environment, and business development. As a common denominator, these initiatives seek poverty alleviation and economic mobility through business methods and solutions to traditional practices.
Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, is a great example. Since its founding in 2006, this company has positively impacted over 100,000,000 lives. The shoe company donates 1/3 of its profits to grassroots efforts that help communities thrive. TOMS invests in three key issues that they believe will lay the groundwork for equity: promoting mental health, ending gun violence, and increasing access to opportunity.
Many more companies, large and small, are using business as a force for good. You can find many examples of “Certified B Corporations” on bcorporation.net. These businesses meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
CSR and social entrepreneurship practices seek to solve society’s most challenging problems that government and nonprofits cannot solve alone.