Creating An Environmental Policy
Supporting Corporate Social Responsibility: Future Profits Might Depend On Present-Day Choices By Your Business
By Sam Bowman
Corporate social responsibility is a business approach that incorporates sustainable development into business practices with the goal of prioritizing social and environmental responsibility. These business practices involve putting money towards sustainable practices that business partners, clients, and consumers can feel good about supporting.
Sustainable environmental policies are growing among large corporations as support for sustainable practices becomes a larger influence in how consumers spend their money. A report on greenhouse emissions over the last two decades found that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse emissions, which has convinced top-level executives to invest in sustainable practices in order to quell growing concern for climate change.
Developing sustainable environmental policies allows companies to demonstrate that they recognize climate change as a factor in the adverse weather events that cause mass injuries and deaths, which helps businesses increase their competitive edge. Corporations that craft thoughtful environmental policies supporting sustainable ideals and expectations are more likely to receive support from younger generations and environmentalists.
Review Your Environmental History
Before you create an environmental policy, it’s important to make sure you understand sustainable practices and what policies have the biggest impact. What is truly missing among businesses that try to make environmentally friendly changes is a big-picture push for sustainability — fixing the most important problems, not just the problems that are easiest to fix. If your company is truly striving to be environmentally friendly, it should innovate sustainable solutions across their business model, products, and services.
Once you do your research to understand sustainable practices, you’ll need to do some additional research on the unsustainable practices your company is most guilty of each year. Most often, these areas are the use of finite resourcesand polluters, such as excess energy consumption. When corporations seek to reduce their environmental impact, one of their first steps is to seek out more sustainable forms of power, as there are already many different forms of alternative energy, and incorporating this change is a relatively simple investment.
Create an Environmental Policy
After you understand how your company can reduce its harm to the environment, your top-level executives should create an environmental policythat will be shared throughout the company and on the company website. This will establish environmental principles that will indicate to employees and business partners the expectations that your business has in its suppliers and contractors. This will demonstrate your company’s commitment to sustainability and complying with environmental regulations.
An environmental policy should be signed by upper management and specifically reflect company values, as a generic environmental policy is more likely to be dismissed. It should be kept short, preferably less than a page. Because it will be shared with business collaborators, customers, and all levels of employees, it should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand. Even if your company is ambitious about where it wants to take sustainability, it’s important for the policy contents to be realistic and reflect the company’s most important concerns and priorities.
Set Company Goals
After doing your research for the areas of your business that could stand to improve, use reports to create an analysis of how to reduce your impact. Consider forming an environmental committee that can analyze various business aspects for ways to incorporate environmental policies at all levels of operations.
This can include hiring remotely to avoid flying candidates out for interviews, offering remote work options to employees to reduce car emissions, going paperless, reducing the amount of waste created throughout production, and incorporating other eco-friendly policies. To accommodate remote workers, you’ll need collaboration and task management software, but you’ll want to be careful when choosing. Discuss your organization’s specific needs with your IT department or specialist in order to find collaboration software that is compatible with your business’ objectives. By creating a roadmap, you’ll be able to target the areas that really matter and find the tools needed to propel your business forward.
Take beverage companies, for example. One large environmental issue is the sale of single-use plastics; an issue that is largely threatening the plastic industry. To combat the negative perceptions consumers have about this issue, single-use water bottle companies are emphasizing their use of recycled plastics in their marketing strategies. After striving to be more environmentally friendly in this manner, Arrowhead reached a recycled content milestone with 90 percent of Arrowhead water bottles made in California now made of 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic content. By overtly addressing this past issue, they’ve built goodwill with consumers and found success.
Establish Systems for Change
Once you target the areas of your business practices that need change, you’ll need to establish systems for change to put your eco-friendly policies into action. These systems will depend entirely on what you’re planning and will likely require the assistance of product developers and production experts. Once you’ve decided on the methods you’ll use, your company will be on its way to meeting its goals and following through on becoming a company who cares about sustaining the planet that we live on.
As these systemic company changes settle into the workflow, it’s important to continue monitoring company progress and the impact that they are having on your fight towards sustainability. Assessing progress is a crucial part of meeting any company goals. By analyzing the data after a few months of policy changes, your company can determine what areas still need improvement. It can also help your management team monitor impacts and improve the efficiency of your processes.
The success of corporate sustainability strategies relies largely on a comprehensive analysis of every aspect of the business that will help achieve company change through regular reassessment. Creating an environmental policy and setting realistic goals are the first steps to helping your company implement environmental management standards that it can hold itself accountable to. But once this is done, it becomes much easier to monitor the progress that your business is making on all levels.
It takes a lot of planning and restructuring to develop and implement new environmental policies for your company. Although these changes can be a lot of work, they can improve your company’s marketing and put your business on the right side of the fight against climate change. Doing so will help sway consumers in your direction and away from your competitors.
In order to keep your policies up to date, it’s important to constantly analyze the environmental impact in each level of your business. This is done by reviewing your company’s history, creating a strong environmental policy, setting goals, establishing systems for change and monitoring company progress every few months. If enough businesses set this precedent for sustainability, we may begin to see real change in corporate social responsibility.