Small businesses are often seen as being too strapped for time and resources to invest in the social good. But the latest instalment of the American Express Small Business Monitor shows that’s just not true. This edition of the quarterly survey focused on social responsibility. It polled more than 500 Canadian firms with fewer than 100 employees, and found that roughly nine in 10 feel it’s their duty to contribute to their communities, with the same ratio reporting the rewards transcend the financial impact. Additionally, almost three-quarters of respondents believe customers today expect businesses to give back to society.
The companies that approach social responsibility as a long-term investment tend to get the best returns, finding that giving can create a symbiotic relationship between a business and the people it serves. The more involved in the local community a firm is, the more its efforts boost its image and lead customers to respond with increased support and loyalty. This, in turn, encourages the business to continue its social contributions.
Many of the companies polled found there were concrete rewards as well: 20% of survey respondents attributed business growth over the past five years directly to their social endeavours. Interestingly, while being a good corporate citizen is an important lure for talent, it seems to have little effect on staff retention. More than three-quarters believe their efforts have helped them attract like-minded employees, but 88% find the initiatives are not a significant factor in retaining existing staff.
Here are other key findings of the AMEX Monitor, co-produced by Canadian Business.