Social Enterprise & Nonprofit
How do you integrate corporate responsibility into your everyday business operations?
Say what you will about millennials, one thing is certain: Their hearts are big. Their insistence on doing good while doing business is the driving force behind more companies of all sizes incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their business plans. CSR is how corporations integrate initiatives designed to impact social and environmental issues. According to the temporary staffing firm Manpower, millennials will make up 35% of the workforce by 2020, and they want to work for companies that are making a difference.
CSR should be unique to each company and authentic to how the business is run. It is critical for leadership to take an active role in determining how a company commits to CSR. If you’re looking to add CSR into your business or expand your CSR mission, there are some common areas to focus your efforts, including sustainable sourcing, environmental impact, philanthropy, volunteerism, gifting products and services, and fair trade and ethical labor practices.
To focus on sustainable sourcing, first review your supply chain. Are you sourcing sustainable products? Can you procure products locally to help reduce the impact on the environment? Even replacing one vendor with a more local source — with the goal of switching more vendors over time — can make a difference.
One example of sustainable sourcing done well is EagleVisions, a Native American–owned business based in Prior Lake. The company draws upon its heritage while working with commercial construction companies, architects and designers to deliver low-impact, sustainable architectural products. It helps businesses make immediate and long-term decisions that protect the sustainability of the earth and its natural resources when making construction decisions.
Impact on the environment
Companies can reduce their impact on the environment in many ways, such as going paperless, conserving energy, or reusing and recycling materials. There are many creative ways to limit a business’s impact on the environment.
Helping improve the environment is at the heart of Moss Envy located in the Calhoun Lakes area. With an emphasis on sourcing made-in-Minnesota products, it sells eco-alternatives to everyday products that fit into one or more of the following categories: recycled, reclaimed, natural, organic, sustainable, vintage, energy-saving, water-saving or fair trade.
Philanthropy, volunteerism & gifting
Consider supporting a specific philanthropy that aligns with your mission or corporate values. If there isn’t an obvious choice, create volunteer opportunities for your employees to get involved with a variety of philanthropies or offer paid time-off for employees to choose how and when to volunteer. You can also give back to the community through gifting products and services.
All of Us, a new travel goods and apparel brand, promotes greater global citizenship, while also improving the travel experience. It recently partnered with Minnesota television personality and travel expert Andrew Zimmern to raise awareness about the scale of the humanitarian crises around the world and also dedicates a portion of all sales to the relief programs of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“When my friends at All of Us shared their plans to create a brand that would encourage curiosity and compassion among travelers, I knew this was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” said Zimmern in a statement. “Together, we have created a line of travel goods that represent the kind of functional, durable and stylish bags that I like to use. But what makes this brand different is All of Us travel goods create legitimate global change with every item sold.”
Fair trade & ethical labor practices
In the U.S., there are clear standards for labor practices, but that isn’t the case everywhere. Businesses that have employees overseas or outsource work should be reviewing labor practices in those regions to make sure they are ethical and meet the values of the company. The same holds true for purchasing products and ingredients abroad. Businesses should make sure to buy only fair trade products to protect workers.
Peace Coffee in Minneapolis co-founded the importing co-op Cooperative Coffees in 1999, allowing Peace Coffee to work directly with small-scale farmer cooperatives around the world. Through Cooperative Coffees, Peace Coffee can pay industry-leading prices to producers and build lasting partnerships with the farmers who grow the coffee Peace Coffee sells.
Meeting for good
One growing trend is to weave CSR initiatives into sales meetings and recognition events. CWT Meetings & Events is a global, full-service meetings and events agency that delivers more than 35,000 events each year for its clients. It is a leader in curating experiences with social impact.
“Clients are frequently asking us to integrate aspects of corporate social responsibility into their travel experiences. In fact, there has been significant demand from our clients in North America to host events in Puerto Rico,” explains Beau Ballin, senior director of business development for CWT in Minneapolis. “They see an opportunity to support the hotel and tourism infrastructure and help rebuild communities with service projects with their employees after the devastation Hurricane Maria caused.”
CSR is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have as consumers are voting with their dollars, and employees are seeking companies that align with their values. How can you align CSR with your everyday business practices?