Large, publicly traded corporations have regulators, as well as their shareholders, to hold them accountable to their performance and compliance. What about smaller firms? Who is ensuring that they engage in equal hiring practices, run their accounting honestly, and give back to the community, all while reporting annual growth?
It may sometimes seem as if there is a lack of oversight for small, private businesses, but that is not necessarily the case. Treat your employees and clients like your shareholders, and you may see your company rise to the occasion and flourish in the added scrutiny.
Major companies like Apple and JP Morgan may issue internal reports about their corporate social responsibility programs or efforts to achieve diversity. Organizations such as these may also find themselves as the subjects of third-party studies, the results of which are not always positive.
Independent, smaller firms can create a system of accountability for their actions by generating similar reports for their employees and clients. Send out engagement surveys, not only to your clients, but to the team members who make operations possible. Find out what makes them proud to work for your company. Discover areas that need improvement.
Once you collect this feedback, share the comments with respondents and let them know what you plan to do differently as a result. Do your employees feel there is not enough diversity (of ethnicity, gender or skills, for example) in the office? Have your sales teams been disappointed with the client retention and turnover rates?
Consider issuing a brief annual report to keep the people who have helped build the business informed about the fruits of their labor. Tell employees if the hours of overtime they put in during the first quarter drove the boost in sales that your company recorded in the third quarter. Share with clients your plans to increase the number of services or products that you offer. Draft a CSR report that recounts your company's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint or contribute to a local charity.
Do not think that these efforts are a waste of resources or provide no return on investment. Although they may be more difficult to measure than a marketing campaign, activities that seek to increase transparency in your organization build up client capital and deepen employee engagement. Community and employee engagement efforts should be encouraged across all types of organizations.