As we move through the 21st century it has become abundantly evident that businesses need to play an active role in working to reach social and sustainability goals.
Though some managers may look back longingly to a time when profits were the only thing business owners needed to concern themselves with, those times have long since passed. Today, how to become more sustainable and achieve corporate social responsibility goals is at the forefront of business leaders’ minds.
Setting ambitious corporate responsibility goals gets a lot of publicity and has been used effectively as a PR stunt by many. However, consumers are wising up and expecting more out of the businesses they spend their money on. Many are willing to pay more for products they feel confident were produced in a more sustainable way or were produced in a socially responsible way throughout the supply chain.
Of course, setting goals is only the first step. The second, much harder task is actually successfully implementing them and still making a profit. Learning to grapple with this difficult task is a sign of a quality leader who is prepared to take the company into the future. Finding the strategy that works for your business is key.
There is no doubt that our global climate is changing and that it will have significant impacts on the way we live. Businesses have a real part to play in addressing the issue and making positive changes that help to alleviate the impacts humans are having on the planet. Smart leaders are seeking out ways to not only become more sustainable, but reduce waste products, incorporate cheaper eco-friendly materials, and build greater company efficiencies.
For instance, one way to work towards becoming more sustainable as a company is to address packaging. Today, many Americans shop online which means their products are often coming from a variety of different warehouses all in individually wrapped packages. Likewise, many products in stores today are covered in thin plastic wrapping, whether it is truly necessary or not.
To address sustainability, some companies are looking at package designs that reduce carbon footprints. One of the simplest ways to use less is to take a hard look at package dimensions and design a box that fits well with your product. Another option is to look at different raw materials for packaging some products. For example, rather than wrapping products in plastic, think about wrapping them in paper or a different product that is easier on the environment.
Beyond sustainability initiatives, the company can also set goals to achieve social impact initiatives. Large global supply chains mean that even small companies source products from all over the world. Evaluating how your sourcing choices are impacting local communities across the world can make a significant difference in improving social equity.
Some of the things to take a harder look at include:
Understanding how your supply chain interacts with human rights globally, including issues such as slave labor, child labor, and fair working conditions.
Setting goals to ensure health and safety objectives are met for every factory involved in your supply chain.
Evaluate the sustainability and human welfare practices that go into producing the raw materials for your products.
Recognize the positive or negative impact your company is having on local communities domestically.
Assessing ways to increase the diversity of the workforce and achieve fair wages and benefits for all employees.
Social factors are equally important and intrinsically tied to sustainability ones. Lifting everyone in the supply chain and workforce up ultimately helps everyone else.
Tying corporate responsibility goals together into something meaningful takes more than a couple of great ideas. It also takes coordination amongst departments and a clear understanding of the company goals and policies by employees. Interdepartmental communication is key here — without strong communication, some of these goals and objectives are bound to fall through the cracks or become a shell of what they could be.
It can be incredibly helpful to create a corporate responsibility strategy with steps that the company can work towards implementing strategically. This holistic approach helps ensure that company policies, frameworks, and mission statements are updated to reflect newer goals and directions. Likewise, it can give leaders an opportunity to explain the updated policies and direction effectively to employees and garner buy-in.
As small and large positive changes are made within the company, it is important to celebrate the achievements. Mark milestones on your way to greater sustainability and encourage employees to keep up the hard work. Building an aura of accomplishment can be a great way to keep enthusiasm high and keep customers aware of all the positive things the company is striving to do.
Setting corporate responsibility goals is a substantial undertaking, but one that is critical to the long-term benefit of the company. Sustainability and social responsibility are characteristics that many consumers are looking for in companies they are loyal to. As your company begins its foray into these facets, take pride in the accomplishments and encourage employees to do the same.