Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. Though CSR is a concept with many definitions and practices, it has increasingly been at the forefront of global corporate sustainability initiatives. All kinds of companies – like Google, Xerox and Target – are making strides to improve their sustainability by getting shareholders, employees and customers on board.
Here are four effective ways your company can improve its sustainability initiatives:
1) Company Mission
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations were legal persons (citizens), protected by the Constitution, the concept of corporations being “good citizens” was elevated to a voluntary level. By making sustainable efforts part of your company mission, you are making a commitment to sustainability becoming an integral part of your bottom line. This implies that your decisions, partnerships and supply chain are all strategically created to complement your greater sustainability initiatives.
2) Waste Reduction
The quintessential sustainable effort in any office is reducing waste. Investments in these efforts have substantial effects on the bottom line. For example, Google has a sustainability effort called Google Green to use resources more efficiently, which has led the company to an overall drop in power requirements for their data centers by an average of 50 percent. These savings, and others like them, can then be redirected to other areas of the business.
But you don’t have to be a large corporation to see results like these. With new workflow automation tools, it is possible for your offices to be completely paperless. By automating repetitive tasks and eliminating countless paper trails, your company will cut down on waste, get closer to a truly paperless office and see significant increases in efficiency and improvements in the bottom line.
3) Employee Engagement
Though sustainability efforts begin with your CSR, getting employees involved is imperative to successful initiatives, because they’re the ones who make the biggest impact executing them. Start a “green team” for employees to meet and discuss ways to make changes that will have an everyday impact. These can be simple things such as starting a recycling program in the office, or huge initiatives like Xerox’s Community Involvement Program, which directly involves employees in community-focused sustainability initiatives. Not only does this garner community recognition, but also teaches employees how they play a part in sustainability. Further than just playing a part at work, these everyday initiatives engage employees to take those initiatives home with them, thus creating an even greater impact.
4) Measurement & Certification
Setting transparent and well-known goals and measurements for your sustainability initiatives helps tie all the above aspects together. By outlining the clear goals that the entire company wants to meet, every employee feels engaged and commits to making it a reality. And you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so establishing baseline metrics will help you track the effectiveness of your sustainability initiatives.
Your business can also map out various sustainability certifications as the ultimate goal to seek. States like California and Florida have tax and grant benefits for companies that commit to green business, and certifications, like the B Corporation Certification, are part of a growing international trend committed to harnessing the power of business for good.
As the popularity of CSR and sustainable businesses continues to rise, these initiatives are evolving into more than just a fad – they’re becoming the norm. Many of the most successful enterprises consider it a duty that helps the planet and their bottom line, but you don’t have to be a large corporation to implement your own sustainability initiatives and see the results the world needs.