SustainabilitySocial Issues

How to Organize Corporations for Improved Sustainability

In recent years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become increasingly important in many companies. An important part of becoming more socially responsible is doing something to fight climate change by becoming more environmentally sustainable. Specifically, this goal is achieved by reducing the global carbon footprint. While this sounds simple, achieving environmental sustainability remains a difficult task for big and small corporations. How can a company, whose main purpose is to generate profit, do something to fight climate change without hurting its business? First, management needs to be willing to see CSR not as something that reduces their immediate profit, but as a long-term investment that can positively affect their future success. Once that’s the case, however, a lot still needs to be done. Here are a few ways that companies can change themselves to help the environment.

1. Start with the building

Sustainable technology used in construction and maintenance can reduce the carbon footprint of buildings themselves. A few examples of these technologies include solar panels, rainwater harvesting and on-site sewage treatment to reuse wastewater, and low-emittance windows. Moreover, many specific sustainable behaviours of employees can be encouraged by adding certain amenities to a building that will make them easier to maintain, such as showers and lockers for those who bike to work. 

How to Organize Corporations for Improved Sustainability

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2. Use human resources initiatives

A few examples of how human resources (HR) can get involved include online recruitment (saving paper), telecommuting, and online training (so employees can forgo energy-expensive transportation). Additionally, HR can support change when management wants to add new environmental policies, and implement an organizational culture focused on sustainability. It can do so because change can be a challenge for employees, and HR professionals usually have extensive knowledge in managing conflict. They are also often involved in the writing up of company policies for employees, and in the reinforcement of these same policies, which puts them in an important position to influence employee behaviour.

3. Get everyone involved

It’s not just about hiring environment specialists; it’s about using different types of skills and knowledge together to improve a company’s sustainability. For example, sustainability should be integrated in all financial aspects, and in various other branches of a company such as marketing, design, manufacturing, and research and development. Sustainability shouldn’t be an added bonus. It’s possible to include it in every part of a company.

How to Organize Corporations for Improved Sustainability

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4. Get the right kind of leadership

It has been argued that leaders who can effectively achieve corporate social responsibility goals have certain characteristics. Mainly, they embrace change, diversity, and conflict. They also generally show courage, perseverance, and self-efficacy, and they have a strong emotional and social intelligence. Hence, it is important for a company to consider these qualities when in the process of selecting a candidate for manager roles, especially if it is serious about implementing sustainability initiatives.

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Managers and CEOs are not the only ones who can change companies to become more socially responsible. In fact, everyone can encourage corporate social responsibility initiatives individually as consumers by supporting the right kinds of companies. You can have a look at Newsweek’s annual green ranking of companies in the US and internationally to get an idea of who is helping the environment the most. Additionally, anyone can improve companies through their own career – whether you are a student working a summer job at the local restaurant, or a product designer in a big corporation. All you need is the willingness to engage in sustainable behaviour, and help your company and coworkers to do the same.

Author

How to Organize Corporations for Improved Sustainability
Psychology student at McGill University whose research focuses on cultural groups interactions, inequalities, and discrimination.