Posted by: PARTHA DAS SHARMA | October 1, 2009

Green Biz is part of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) – Keys to success

Green Biz is part of Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) – Keys to success:

A. Introduction – Climate change has already happened and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing our planet. The fight against climate change has become one of today’s most challenging tasks. UN and many nations have put forward number of proposals, legislations etc., to combat climate change and promote renewable energy; that will help transform them into a low-carbon economy and increase their energy security. Many have also set themselves the target of increasing the share of renewable energy.

These efforts are also shared by Global business houses and private sectors who have designed and implemented initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and increase use of renewable energy. These companies have their own environmental policies that play an important role in the fight against climate change. Their efforts have far-reaching influence on their internal operations, suppliers as well as their customers both within and outside of their country.

B. Importance of Green Businesses – ‘Going Green’ is all the buzz these days. Operating a green business is not only good for the environment but good for your business’s bottom line because conserving resources and cutting down on waste saves money. The good news is that whether you run a home-based business or an off-site enterprise, there are simple things you can do to run an environmentally friendly business. Many large corporations have their own “Green” policies and seem to out “Green” their competition. From small business to small manufacturing companies, any company can easily compete with big business when “Going Green”.

Business leaders today are responding to growing concern about pollution, renewable energy etc. These “Green” policies by a company have become key success factor when doing businesses with most of the companies in developed and emerging economic countries. These business sectors can create and develop a competitive edge by being ahead of competition “Going Green” – “Green Business” as one of their key marketing strategies (part of the Corporate Social Responsibilities). These companies encourage their suppliers and others in the industry to accept “Going Green” as a business practice. “Going Green” create a good corporate image and build credibility for businesses in international arena.

C. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – Corporate sustainability encompasses strategies and practices that aim to meet the needs of stakeholders today while seeking to protect, support and enhance the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future.

CSR is a way of thinking about and doing businesses, which needs to be ‘mainstreamed’ across business operations and into company strategy. It is not just a task for the public relations department but needs to permeate across the company. csr

In other words, CSR means different things to individuals, governments and businesses. For some individuals, it simply refers to how ‘good’ or ethical a company is. For governments, it can be about the contribution that the corporate sector can make to a government’s own policies, for example, on urban regeneration or sustainable development. For businesses themselves it can mean anything from ensuring that their global workforce is treated in accordance with rigorous ethical guidelines, to ensuring that office supplies are recycled. Its meaning will vary according to size, sector, country and the views of management and other stakeholders. What is increasingly clear is that despite the differing interpretations, CSR does and will increasingly matter to all companies.

Now, at least four themes are increasingly common across sectors and countries – Environment, Community, People, and Ethics/Governance, each of which relates to areas such as:

* Environment – waste management, use of office space, energy and water use and travel

* Community – charity, sponsorship, education and community development

* People – reward/recognition, work-life balance, health & well-being, diversity & equality and development

* Ethics/ Governance – ethical decision-making, transparency, business conduct, and quality control

Clearly, whilst CSR does include “Green issues”, that are at the forefront of consumer consciousness, it covers a broader range of issues that are of concern to diverse stakeholders such as investors, supply-chain partners, regulators, employees, special interest groups and government.

D. Doing things differently – Profitable, successful companies cannot afford to operate in a vacuum – no matter what size or sector, external pressures cannot be ignored. But developing a CSR policy need not be costly. It can be implemented as easily across a small team, through flexible working or employee recognition, as it can across a large organisation with a dedicated budget. For all companies the challenge is to view CSR programmes as core business and an investment in future returns, for example a safer and healthier local community, rather than simply a public relations exercise or similar cost of doing business.

If a company already have a comprehensive CSR policy, make sure that it is clearly communicated on your website and marketing documents, and that all your employees are aware of it – they should be your best ‘ambassadors’.

E. Keys to Running an Efficient Green Business Climate – With unprecedented energy price volatility and looming climate regulations, businesses face a new and complex energy paradigm. In this scenario, growing number of companies recognize that energy efficiency must form the backbone of any corporate strategy to address the new energy frontier. A set of energy management guidelines that are useful for firms seeking to develop energy efficiency strategies are:

* Firms recognize the energy paradigm is changing rapidly.
* Companies are responding by establishing corporate-wide energy efficiency targets.
* Senior management support is critical in the development and implementation of energy efficiency programs.
* The most common challenge companies face in pursuing efficiency gains are resource constraints, especially limits on capital.
* Employee engagement is an effective, but possibly underutilized strategy for improving energy efficiency.
* Energy efficiency can be a gateway to wider business innovation.

Energy efficiency should be the foundation of any corporate strategy designed to navigate this new business reality. Properly executed, a robust corporate energy efficiency strategy can reduce costs, manage risks, ease environmental compliance, boost employee morale, and open doors to greater innovation and productivity. Most of these benefits have been well understood for some time, yet energy efficiency performance continues to be highly uneven throughout the corporate community. In short, some companies clearly outclass others when it comes to energy management.

F. Ways to make “Sustainably Profitable” Biz in a Low-Carbon Economy –

* Offer transparency about company’s climate change activities and performance. Companies must report their emissions data and climate change strategies.

* Companies must demonstrate low-carbon intensity activities. Companies that are running the most carbon efficient operations demonstrate good carbon management performance and move to a low-carbon economy.

* Establish and achieve emissions reductions plans. High-performing companies must implement emissions reductions plans and should detail any carbon cuts they have achieved and how they intend to continue to achieve their reductions in future.

* Monitor and manage the evolving climate change agenda by engaging positively with policy makers for long-term regulatory incentives.

* Implement innovative ideas to capitalize on climate change opportunities and demonstrate good management of risks. The provision of low-carbon technologies, products and services will generate large revenue streams for the companies who spot the opportunities early.

* Demonstrate board-level involvement in climate change strategies.

* Drive the business towards climate change mitigation by offering incentives, often financial, to employees for individual management of climate initiatives.

G. Few Steps for ‘Going Green’ by smaller businesses – Green business is about doing more with less. Reducing waste is in the best interest of all businesses—large or small. So, not only it will be helping the environment, but will also be helpful in the bottom line. Steps for going green for few smaller businesses have been discussed below:

a. For service businesses:

* Reduce your Transportation Footprint: More Telecommuting and Conferencing, Less Flying, Public Transit rewards

* Push Paper: Go with electronic document management, and electronic signatures, and if you do have to print, make it post consumer recycled (and don’t forget comprehensive recycling onsite!)

* Choose a Green Printer: Environmentally Friendly Printing means soy-based, nontoxic inks and biofriendly coatings- and papers with some recycled content

* Zero Carbon IT: Offset your web hosting and server energy use, or choose a hoster that’s powered by renewable energy (and always dispose of eWaste consciously)

* Save Energy and Watts: Reduce energy use in the office through the use of CFLs, turning off lights and thermostat management.

b. For Retailers:

* Mind your miles: Buy local whenever possible, to reduce the overall distance your products and services travel before they get to our shelves.

* Think full circle: Offer products that are made with the planet in mind. Offer products that have a healthy end of life plan- things that can be recycled, reused or properly disposed of. Take into consideration what kinds of packaging materials your vendors use, and request Post Consumer content, and alternatives to the environmentally disastrous packing peanuts and Styrofoam wherever possible.

* Make your own packaging green: Offer only paper bags, no plastic. Preferably no highly coated papers! And choose fillers that can be reused or recycled.

* Choose conscious shippers: When sending out your packages, choose a shipping partner that is thinking about sustainability, and let their sales and customer service team know why you are picking them- so they keep doing it.

* Reduce energy in the Store, Stockroom and Warehouse: Change the lightbulbs, seal doors and windows, insulate, and adjust the thermostat.

c. For Wholesaler and Manufacturers:

* Cradle-to-Cradle Thinking: Find a way to use all the products and waste stream from your processes before you start making stuff. Think about how your products and their packaging will be disposed of at the end of life, and design that way. Choose inputs that can be sustainably harvested.

* Mind your Supply Base: As a small business, you don’t have a lot of leverage, so work with vendors who support your vision. Avoid toxic products in manufacturing, focusing on paints and coatings and preservatives. Find alternatives wherever possible.

* Energy and Water Watch: Use energy efficient lighting, adjust the thermostat to reduce energy use, keep all machinery in good repair, insulate and seal all your operational spaces and reduce water use so there’s no waste.

* Pack Consciously: Use only products that can be recycled, and avoid plastics and Styrofoam fillers (which are made from oil, and only end up in landfills).

* Ship Consciously: When sending out your packages, choose a shipping partner that is thinking about sustainability, and let their sales and customer service team know why you are picking them- so they keep doing it.

H. Conclusion – Environmentally friendly actions don’t have to be large to have an impact. Consistently reducing the amount of energy, water, and paper our businesses use can make a huge difference, both to the environment and to our pocketbooks.

As such, CSR is a guiding tool for companies that wish to contribute to the sustainable development of communities where they live, work and impact. It has been identified by industry experts worldwide as the path towards sustained profit growth for the company and creation of long-term value for its stakeholders. On the other hand, it builds reputation, trust and employee morale, each of which represents an ever-increasing part of the value of a company in today’s fast changing world.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are important and urgent aspects of mitigating climate change. On eco design, companies should adopt a motto of “zero waste” to reduce costs and improve the environment. Companies also need to avoid toxic chemicals and manage the supply chain to reduce environmental risks.

References:

1. http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn/analysis/2245864/doing-business-green-way-4745157

2. http://www.doingbusinesswiththeeu.com/GreenBusiness.html

3. http://www.austrade.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/2095/Green-Matters-Corporate-Social-Responsibility.pdf.aspx

4. http://www.reuters.com/article/gwmEnergy/idUS192128611620090929

5. http://www.startupnation.com/articles/9302/1/going-green.htm

6. http://www.bus.wisc.edu/sustainability/council

7. http://www.greenbusinesstimes.com/

8. http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/09/14/cdp-2009-preview-how-be-sustainably-profitable-low-carbon-economy

9. http://www.ukfast.co.uk/green-daily-news/sustainably-profitable-in-a-lowcarbon-economy-how.html


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