Are you practicing retail social responsibility? Ask yourself these 4 questions

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It’s often said that crisis reveals character, and Covid-19 has certainly revealed the good and the ugly in society. Shutdowns, financial strains, lack of resources, and the uncertainty of survival has put companies to the ultimate moral test. We’ve witnessed retailers make costly, bold moves to keep customers and employees safe. They’ve employed everything from mask mandates to plexiglass partitions to sanitizing stations, and some even went the extra mile to fashion masks for frontline workers. However, thanks to the news and social media, we’ve also witnessed extreme opposite behavior.

While the term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not new, I’d like to focus on retail social responsibility (RSR). The accountability is a must for every retailer. Here are some questions retailers should be asking of themselves, along with ways to show more retail social responsibility for a lasting impact.

1. Are you investing in your workforce and customers?

Retail social responsibility has always meant treating your employees fairly, paying the right wages, and promoting diverse hiring practices. But as we’ve experienced with the recent pandemic, investing in your workforce and customers now stretches much further. It means paying premiums for working during a shutdown, aggressively putting a program into place that keeps everyone safe before you’re asked to do so, and advancing employees’ development and training, which now includes new rules and safety protocols.

Retailers also have to consider the “human factor,” which translates to being sensitive and understanding of what’s happening at the moment. Gauge how your employees and customers are feeling. Are they scared of catching the virus? Are they afraid they won’t be able to pay their rent?

Checking in on a frequent basis and adjusting retail practices accordingly will make everyone feel more comfortable.

2. Where are you sourcing products from?

For retailers to be socially responsible, they must know where their products are coming from and how they’re being made. We’ve all seen and heard the horror stories of sweatshops and children working in squalid conditions. More than ever, customers are invested in the products and services they’re buying, and retailers can no longer take an ignorance-is-bliss attitude.

Instead, extra steps should be taken from making frequent visits to factories to gauge what’s happening there and building strong personal relationships with manufacturers. It’s up to retailers to reexamine their suppliers often. It’s also a good idea to be transparent and let the public know about your positive practices, whether that’s in a social media post, a website blog, or on your packaging.

3. How are you pricing products?

This is a big one, especially during an unprecedented pandemic where finances are drained, and people are struggling to find ways to keep safe. From hand sanitizer to PPE, we’ve seen businesses taking advantage of the situation by selling coveted PPE at a premium or up-charging on food and product deliveries. While retailers have to consider supply and demand, we’ve all witnessed egregious price gouging since the onset of Covid-19. Every business should be making a profit, but at the same time, we have a moral responsibility to be fair to customers. People will remember what you do in a time of crisis, and you don’t want to come across as tone deaf.

4. Who are you supporting?

Statistics show that consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that supports an issue they care about, and they may also refuse to buy from a company that backs an issue contrary to their own beliefs. We’ve seen this consumer backlash play out recently during the protests, when companies stayed silent on racial injustices.

However, getting behind a purpose or cause is also something you can’t fake. What you support should be something that your brand, your employees, and hopefully your customers, identify with themselves. As a retailer, you can donate revenue to social causes and nonprofits, create special products for charity, or sponsor community initiatives. Our company T-ROC currently supports the Boys & Girls Clubs and United Way. Right now, we have a company initiative where we’re matching every dollar that our employees donate.

It’s also about helping your employees when they’re struggling. When one of our employees recently lost her mother to breast cancer, she cut off her hair to donate to a wig manufacturer, and we donated to that wig factory. If you take care of your employees and your customers, they will take care of you.

The things your company aligns with and the actions you take will ultimately mark your brand. Retail social responsibility means being intentional about all of these things.

To learn more about Brett Beveridge, his company, T-ROC Global, his awards, speaking opportunities and upcoming ForbesBooks launch, visit

The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global) is home to four sales solutions companies that enable clients to fulfill all of their sales performance needs. The companies are: The Retail Outsource (TRO), Mobile Insight (MI), The Consumer Insight (TCI), and SYMBITS.

Brett Beveridge is the founder and chief executive officer for The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global). Beveridge is a serial entrepreneur who builds businesses from the ground up. Since founding T-ROC Global, the company has evolved to become a leader in the wireless, electronics, software and retail industries.

Source: South Florida Business Journal