RISE and Shine
Responsibility in Small Enterprises (RISE) is a forum for discussion and discovery of responsible and sustainable business practices for small businesses. There are many large organizations designed to explore this topic for large, multi-national corporations, but this group is designed specifically with the small and medium sized business in mind.
Take a look at the websites or annual reports of virtually any Fortune 500, global corporation and you will find some reference to their social agenda, their community engagement, strategic philanthropy, socially responsible labor or environmental practices, sustainable business models or a multitude of other activities under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Corporate Citizenship banner. Next, go to the website of any number of organizations (BSR, CECP, UN Global Compact to name a few, not to mention this site) that promote good corporate citizenship and you will find any number of arguments as to why being socially responsible is not only good for the globe and its people, but also for the bottom line of businesses engaged in these activities.
Now here's the challenge: try to find a model that takes those concepts of CSR and applies them to small and medium sized businesses in a way that creates value for all stakeholders including owners, customers, employees, suppliers, the community and the earth.
Since over 98% of all firms in the United States have fewer than 100 employees (US Census Bureau, 2004), doesn't it make sense that someone should be researching and developing models for them? If CSR is good for big business, doesn't the flexibility and innovation of small business (if not scale) make it a great candidate for capturing the value of a strong citizenship program and reputation?
These are some of the questions we have been asking - and we've decided to do something about it. Starting this fall, we will begin a series of bi-monthly gatherings for small and medium sized businesses in the southwest Washington area. If you own or work for a business that employes fewer than 250 people and would like to participate in this group, please let us know by providing us with your contact information. We look forward to engaging discussions.