Our environment is undeniably in decline. Bushfires in Australia are raging, heat waves were disastrous in India last year, and flooding has wrecked parts of the American Midwest. Climate change is only going to get worse — what will you do about it?
ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY CSR INITIATIVES: DO THEY REALLY WORK?
CSR initiatives, in theory, should have an impact.
A group of individuals regularly coming together to invest time, money and effort towards a cause might seem insignificant. But with a commitment on a micro basis and industry-wide involvement on a macro basis, the working world can undoubtedly make a change.
What could hinder the effectiveness of your environmentally-friendly CSR initiatives? The biggest problem singled out by industry experts is a lack of effort. Even from the get-go, companies don’t seem to put effort into supporting causes in a meaningful manner. The best CSR initiative is one that aligns with both a company’s goals and unique skill sets — anyone can do a once-off beach cleanup, but not everyone can introduce a recycling program to your office complex, or even create software that monitors energy consumption in the workplace. These ideas are best-suited to particular skill-sets and more importantly, sustainable.
Another problem is a lack of coordination. If environmentally-friendly CSR initiatives are treated as a tool for boosting brand image then they won’t be taken seriously by those at the top, leaving mid-tier managers scrambling to organize company-wide events. There’s a lack of purpose, no senior leadership and ultimately, the cause is disrespected.
Therefore, if companies just take this little effort in choosing a niche cause, supporting it consistently and meaningfully, while involving all members of the business — environmentally-friendly CSR initiatives could be transformative.
#1: GOOGLE’S REDUCED ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Google does CSR centered on minimizing its environmental impact, like creating a data center that uses 50% less energy than a typical data center. As a well-endowed company, they’ve also committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects. Why we love this: Google has evidently played to its strengths by investing money in eco causes or leveraging on its pool of talent to minimize its energy consumption.
#2 GENERAL ELECTRIC’S ECOIMAGINATION
GE launched its Ecomagination program more than ten years ago, to focus on cleantech and create greener products. It has since manufactured the Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive, which reduces emissions by over 70%. Why we love this: GE has chosen a niche that perfectly aligns with its business fundamentals and values.
#3 LEGO’S CSR TEAM
Lego has not only reduced its plastic packaging but also used its revenue to invest in alternative energy sources. Why we love this: the company has further demonstrated its commitment to this goal by creating a team solely to keep it accountable to its environmental goals.
#4 XEROX’S COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT PROGRAM
Xerox has been a front-runner of green CSR initiatives, from participating in the Green World Alliance to the Electronic Industry Citizen Coalition. They’ve even started their own community involvement program, where they support local projects. Why we love this: Xerox is a great example of meaningful community engagement. It’s not about throwing money towards a cause, rather they give local employees full say over the niche cause to pick and the best strategy to consistently engage the local community in making an impact.
#5 PATAGONIA’S EARTH TAX
Patagonia has practiced mindfulness and environmental-friendliness in every step of its production process. One of its environmentally-friendly CSR initiatives is the “Earth Tax”, where they donate 1% of their sales to conservation efforts. Why we love this: Patagonia uses both its wealth and brand name to make an impact. Besides donating funds, it uses its social media platforms to promote grassroots activists and various eco campaigns.
REDUCING ENERGY CONSUMPTION, SUPPORTING ECO BUSINESSES… HOW WILL YOUR COMPANY MAKE AN IMPACT?
You don’t have to be Apple or Google to make an impact. At Timeqube, we make a change by planting a tree for every Timeqube sold. You could use this same strategy, or do a smaller-scale version of the strategies adopted by conglomerates. You just have to take that extra effort to customize the initiative, but it’ll definitely be worth it!