Social impact awards go both ways: they reward those doing good and encourage others to do the same. By recognizing social and environmental leadership and innovation, these awarding organizations do their part in building the equitable, diverse, and conscientious marketplace of the future.
There are many benefits to receiving a social or environmental impact award. Besides the recognition received from winning the award itself, doors are opened to exclusive networking opportunities (with past and fellow winners and award sponsors, namely), you are more likely to win future awards, and your organization gains a reputation that will help it attract new customers. Some also come with a nice cash prize.
To receive an award for corporate social and environmental change, you’ll need to understand the nature of these awards—not to mention how to get your organization in the running.
Social and Environmental Impact Awards: Understanding Recognition
While each award is unique, areas of interest follow specific themes that change depending on global concerns and climate. Overall, they recognize social and environmental leadership, impact, and innovation.
Corporate awards often focus on leaders of organizations that create unique partnerships and models for success using their influence and connections. They are change-makers who inspire others to do good.
Other awards prioritize companies that develop new, innovative products or business models that will solve a specific social or environmental need. A good example is the Boston College Corporate Citizenship Innovation Awards, which recognize companies for environmental innovation and innovative program design.
Others still emphasize social justice and community development. The two often go together, and corporate award winners show how creating fair opportunities to address inequalities leads to a tangible impact in society—usually in a replicable, scalable way.
Only some social impact awards will apply to your business. If your organization doesn’t focus on sustainability, climate change, or conservation, then it makes little sense for you to seek an Environmental Finance award.
However, it is becoming increasingly common to see award-granting organizations integrate social and environmental criteria into award programs, so business owners should follow suit.
A great example is the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. While they have varying award categories, they wish to see in all nominated organizations a consideration of the environmental impact of their activities, governance that embraces diversity and inclusivity, and the creativity to leverage technology to maximize impact.
Building Social Responsibility into Your Business Strategy
And so the nature of your organization, from its policies to how it conducts business, will always be considered when you’re running for a corporate responsibility award.
For example, you must have environmentally friendly business practices to receive awards for environmental impact—or any other modern impact award. You’ll want to work with other organizations and vendors that show the same commitment to the environment as you do. Simply put, don’t just posture. Work your values into everything you do.
You should also demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of your employees. Build diversity and inclusion into your policies and procedures. Partake in a healthy amount of employee recognition and consider your staff’s values when building corporate responsibility programs and encouraging employee engagement—for example, by matching donations and giving employees plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the community.
A socially responsible body finds itself at the intersection of the aforementioned core values. Consider incorporating innovation, equity, impact, and sustainability into your practices.
Consider thinking about impact campaigns you can hold within your organization. Trophies and awards that recognize employees for volunteer hours, innovative ideas that reflect your organization’s social values, or that help implement programs will inspire impact right at home.
Navigating the Award Application and Selection Process
Finally, don’t forget all the paperwork and planning that goes into applying for an award.
Only some awards are open to certain types of businesses. Some are for nonprofits only, some for-profits, and some for certified social enterprises. And some, like the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, recognize ventures of all shapes and sizes. Don’t overlook eligibility and waste time on an application that may not even be considered.
Be aware of nomination deadlines and requirements. Many awards, including the Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Award, require you to be nominated by someone other than yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to reach out to vendors, community stakeholders, and others that would consider nominating you for the award.
Regardless of whether you are selected or not, try again. Maintain a socially responsible business culture by seeking feedback, making improvements, and striving for continuous improvement.