Seems like for many companies, saying what you want to do is quite different from actually doing it.
Reading 11 Challenges for Corporate Sustainability, I realized that there are certain things you don't advertise, but do anyway. These responses reflect business organizations that are more focused on complying and reporting rather than engaging in CSR and sustainability.
In the end, what about the consumers—and the employees? Are organizations talking to them? Are they really engaged in CSR and sustainability?
For any sustainability initiative to be effective, beside integration, we need to work on delivering from the inside to the outside. For someone to preach social concern towards the community, for example, and not look inwards to their own workforce first, is not only the wrong approach, it is destined for failure.
A social project works the same way.
Two companies from my part of the world that practice sustainability by spotlighting their most crucial stakeholders, their employees.
Internal Social Responsibility: Jerónimo Martins
Jerónimo Martins is a Portuguese retail company that operates out of Portugal and Poland (Biedronka). Recently, they created a new project called Internal Social Responsibility. The objective: To develop its brand image by learning everything about its workers from how they live and what their needs are to what they value the most.
They realized that education is a key component of their employees' happiness and wellbeing. Now, they are working on implementing projects that support their workers who want to pursue higher education, and help family members with scholarships.
This is how you engage and do corporate social responsibility: With real action and implementation. Because now when they present their staff with a new project, not only will the employees be a lot qualified, they will also be motivated to participate and get involved.
Do you think that this company is engaged in CSR? I think so.
Supply Chain Sustainability: EDP
EDP is the largest producer and supplier of electricity in Portugal and was recently ranked No. 1 in the utilities sector on the Dow Jones Sustainability index. Besides being renowned for implementing sustainability strategies into its business model, EDP's commitment to exploring renewable energies is equally popular and well-received.
For example, in a wine production province of Portugal, instead of helping the wineries with financial support, they decided to help them enter newer markets like China.
Not for EDP. From their perspective, giving the producers financial support would have helped, but training them how to self-promote and take on new markets would enhance their business model much more efficiently while ensuring long term survival.
Editor's Note: Got more examples to share? Or a different opinion? Leave a comment or send them to In Good Company!
--By Bruno Slewinski
Bruno is a marketing professional with a focus on customer service and currently conducting research for his master's thesis on sustainability. He lives in Portugal and hopes to work more closely on CSR and sustainability issues, or as he puts it, "find his own place in a sustainable world."
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