Running a business in a socially responsible way is a challenging task. The businesses of today have to consider more than just profitability if they are to keep their customers, employees, shareholders and communities happy. The balancing act of effecting positive social change while exceeding strategic company objectives is one that many companies are still trying to master.


Employee salaries can take up a large percentage of a business' budget. Many companies attempt to keep wages low in order to maximize profits. Socially responsible companies understand that paying employees a fair or above average wage may cost more but has significant advantages in the long run. SAS Institute, a business analytic software company, has consistently been ranked as one of the best companies to work for in America. SAS provides its employees with subsidized childcare, a free healthcare center, unlimited sick time and many other perks. The investment the company makes in its employees is substantial. However, businesses like SAS realize that by positively impacting the lives of its employees, the company benefits from higher productivity, good employee morale and fewer labor disruptions.

Supply Chain

Businesses that work with multiple suppliers can find it challenging to address socially irresponsible business practices. Apple came under fire from the media and its customers when news broke of sub-par working conditions at one of its supplier's plants. Apple insisted it was not aware of the labor conditions and sent a team to the Foxconn plant in China to investigate the allegations.

Similarly, Walmart came under intense pressure from its shareholders to disclose and monitor how its international suppliers treat their workers. Walmart admitted that addressing this issue was a challenge for the company given the many suppliers with which the company does business.


When the product a business offers to customers results in harm, this can be a devastating blow. A New England compounding plant had to be closed after the steroid injections it manufactured were linked to cases of fungal meningitis. Many companies have had to respond swiftly to crises to prevent similar outcomes when quality controls failed to recognize faulty products. Businesses must ensure there are stringent checks and balances to identify products that do not meet safety standards. Businesses must also make sure consumer and employee safety are a priority so that goods and services can be provided safely and responsibly.


Recycling bottles and cans, reducing paper and energy consumption are all ways that businesses can incorporate sustainable practices in their operations. Old habits are hard to change, and companies have to remain committed to training employees on how to incorporate these practices in their daily activities. Sustainability practices have to be employed company-wide and then tracked or measured. Businesses can then document their efforts to be environmentally responsible in their annual reports.