This article looks into community relations and why they matter to businesses. Some people may subscribe to the notion put forward by Milton Friedman that “the business of business is business.” But things change and this is no longer the case. Good community relations can add real value to businesses and poor community relations can impose real costs to businesses.
This article will focus on the opportunities that good community relations present
1. Build a well of good will
A big opportunity that comes with being a leader on corporate responsibility and from developing good community relations is that you can build up a well of good will. Businesses operate within society and within the environment. To be successful businesses depend on access to structures larger than themselves.
By building strong relations with the community within which your business operates, you can solve issues before they become problems.
If people know that your business is approachable and they have seen you being active in the community, they will come to you. They will come to you when there is a minor problem and hopefully you can solve that problem together.
All good businesses will at some point need to expand. That could be expanding on the same site, at a different site in the local area or at a different site in a new area. If your business has developed a well of goodwill through strong management of its community relations, this process will be a lot easier.
Issues such as the planning process can be made far easier by being active in the community. If people know you as a business of high moral standards that looks after its people, the community and the planet, they are less likely to go to extreme lengths to frustrate any planning applications that you may submit.
2. Build a reputation for excellence
By having a top quality corporate responsibility policy and strategy, your business can develop a reputation for excellence. All businesses want their product or service to be thought of as being of the highest calibre. But community relations matter and all businesses should strive for excellence in this realm too.
Your business should look to campaign on local issues and build local partnerships.
Perhaps there is a homeless charity in the vicinity. Make sure you are there for them when they need you.
Perhaps there is a foodbank in your local area. Be there for them when their supplies are running low.
By being in the right place at the right time and serving the community within which your business exists your business can create a reputation for excellence that is far bigger than the products or services it delivers.
This allows you to build a reputation for excellence. These reputational benefits are highly valuable. They allow you to become a trusted partner in your community and they force people to see you as a giver and not a taker.
3. Build a skilled local workforce
Great companies need great workers. It has been said that we are in a global war for talent. Whether this is true or not, what is clear is that businesses succeed by recruiting and retaining the best staff.
Businesses can gain a greater control over the local labour supply by investing in training local people. Once hired, these people are likely to show greater loyalty and stay for longer than a candidate that has come from afar.
Businesses can also help out by running local CV workshops, allowing their employees to volunteer in the community and by taking students on work experience placements.
All of these activities allow your business to be a key player in building a skilled local workforce. This makes smart business sense and is good for society which is what corporate responsibility is all about.
What you need to know
This article looked into community relations and why they matter to businesses.
Businesses can use strong community relations as a hedge to build up a well of goodwill should they need to take from or place a burden on the community at a later date.
Businesses can use an astute corporate responsibility programme to develop a reputation for excellence that transcends the products or services they deliver.
Businesses can be active in the community and solve problems such as skills shortages themselves.
Overall community relations matter to businesses. They should choose to be active in their communities out of enlightened self-interest because it makes smart business sense. But they should also choose to be active in their communities out of a sense of corporate moral responsibility.
Thank you for reading,
By Barnaby Nash
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the importance of community relations to businesses?