As the 2018 winds down, business owners start to look ahead and plan for 2019. Speculation is a funny thing. It’s easy to guess what’s going to be a big deal in the coming year, but it’s hard to get it right. I’m about to hazard a guess that social and environmental responsibilities will move to the forefront in 2019, especially for customers.

One only has to look at the #deleteUber movement to see this trend has been growing for some time. At the start of 2017, Uber was a behemoth in the rideshare market, owning more than 90% of the business. But when the company’s culture came to light, it became obvious that while technologically innovative, Uber was well behind the times socially.

The revelation hurt the business. By August of 2017, Uber was down to 74.3% of the market share according to Recode. Since the scandal, Uber has never really regained its behemoth status. In fact, a December 2018 report by Second Measure found Uber holding just 69.6% of the market.

The point is these things matter! So how do you start shaping your company to make it more socially and ethically responsible?

Go Local

Whenever possible, shop local business. If you use produce, get it fresh from local markets. If there’s a product you can get locally for a comparable price, choose the local vendor. Customers appreciate it when you support local businesses and pump money back into your community. They recognize business owners who support the local economy.

Be Ethical

This isn’t just something you do for your customers, but your employees too. Employees talk. If you don’t believe me, just look at the website Glassdoor, which includes reviews posted by employees about employers. If you’re a bad boss, believe me, it will come out.

Treat your employees with respect. Show them you value their work and reward dedicated employees with raises and promotions. Make sure they’re paid fairly. Listen and respond to their concerns about health and safety in the workplace.

Respecting your employees shows through their work and your product. It also leads to loyalty, something that can be invaluable in an employee.

Encourage Volunteering

Let your employees know about your culture of volunteering and then encourage them to volunteer as well. Make it a rewarding time for them, such as a volunteer day off each month or once a quarter. Consider a prize for the employees that do a certain number of volunteer hours per month.

Volunteering can also be a great team building activity. Close down the office for a day or make it a weekend activity. You and your employees may have a good time doing something outside of work together.

While you don’t want to seem crass, there are ways to use social media to show off what you and your employees are doing. If it’s a day you close the office, show your customers why. Snap some photos of where you are and what you’re doing. If it’s employees doing work outside of work, then boast about 100 volunteer hours in the books or a month of giving back. Look for ways to show off what your company is doing.

Make Small Changes

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference, especially when it comes to the environment. Consider making your office paperless. Invest in a scanner and take those paper files and turn them into electronic ones. Moving forward, commit to keeping electronic files instead of paper ones.

You can also add recycling bins to every common area in your office and teach your employees how to use them. Change the lighting in your office so they’re LEDs. Switch to low flow toilets. There are a number of energy-efficient moves you can make that seem small, but make a huge difference over time.

And remember to toot your own horn. Brag on Facebook when your company goes 100% paperless or when you switch to all LED lights.

Whatever changes you decide to make, remember that you need to be fully committed to the idea of social and ethical responsibility. If you’re not, it will not ring true with your employees or your customers. If there’s one thing customers hate more than anything is a company that is insincere in its endeavors.

Written by Erika Towne