Category Archives: Triple Bottom Line

United States Carbon: Venture-Backed Companies Put Social Impact on Par with Financial Returns

Governor Markell, Entrepreneurs and DE State Legislators celebrate the first DE benefit corporations

Today, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock welcomed a record 17 companies to register as Delaware benefit corporations on the statute’s first effective date.

Registering companies include popular home goods brand Method Products, fastest-growing organic baby food brand Plum Organics, innovative paper company New Leaf Paper, leading fair trade food business Alter Eco and Farmigo, the world’s first online personal delivery farmer’s market. Venture capital investors, corporate investors and parent companies of these businesses include San Francisco Equity Partners and European eco-leader Ecover (Method), American icon Campbell Soup Company (Plum), Benchmark Capital and RSF Social Finance (Farmigo), Pacific Community Investors (New Leaf Paper) and Good Capital (Alter Eco).

Benefit corporations meet a market need and a societal need,” said Governor Jack Markell. “They have the potential to create high quality jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities.”

“B Corp re-imagines corporate governance in a way that drives value creation for all and creates lasting companies,” said Michael Eisenberg of Benchmark Capital.

Delaware is the 19th state (plus the District of Columbia) to enact benefit corporation legislation, but as legal home of most venture-backed businesses, the majority of publicly-traded companies, and nearly two-thirds of the Fortune 500, it is the most important state for businesses that seek access to venture capital, private equity and public capital markets. Current Delaware law requires corporations to prioritize the financial interests of shareholders over the interests of workers, communities and the environment. Benefit corporations enjoy legal protection to create value for society, not just for shareholders, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency.

“Part of Method’s mission is to show that business can be a force for social and environmental good. Delaware benefit corporation law enables responsible businesses like Method to practice a more enlightened form of corporate governance that includes not only financial objectives, but social and environmental objectives,” said Adam Lowry, Co-Founder and Chief Greenskeeper of Method Products.

“Adopting this legislation is a natural extension of how we do business at Plum,” said Neil Grimmer Co-founder & President of Plum Organics. “We are committed to providing little ones with the very best food from the very first bite, and a publicly stated benefit recommits us to that core value. We are honored to be among the first to reincorporate as a benefit corporation, and hope today will set the stage for many like-minded companies to join us.”

In recognition of what members of the Delaware Bar have called a “seismic shift in corporate law,” more than 600 business leaders from the community of B Corps have signed an Open Letter inviting their colleagues to join them in redefining success in business. Signatories include well-known businesses like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s and high growth businesses like online marketplace Etsy and eyewear company Warby Parker; the Open Letter to Business Leaders can be read at www.bcorporation.net/open-letter-to-business-leaders.

Benefit corporations are a new kind of corporation legally required to: 1) have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment; 2) expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of the interests of workers, community and the environment; and 3) publicly report annually on its overall social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent and transparent third party standard. Delaware’s statute does not require use of a third party standard and only requires reporting to shareholders, not to the general public.

Four other companies, SustainAbility, Honest Company, GOOD Inc. and Performance Management Institute, have also committed to registering as benefit corporations in the coming year.

“With the passage of Delaware Benefit Corporation legislation, the path is now clear to scale business as a force for good,” said Andrew Kassoy, B Lab Co Founder. “It’s great to see venture capital and corporate investors taking advantage of this new tool to scale mission driven businesses on the very first day.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

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United States Carbon: Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

benefits-of-corporate-social-responsibility

 

No longer is the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ a novel idea amongst businesses. A 2011 sustainability study by MIT showed that sustainability, in the US at least, now plays a permanent part in 70% of corporate agendas.

Organisations such as Unilever haven’t simply been championing sustainable business as a form of corporate philanthropy. Since implementing their Sustainable Living Plan, they have increased growth and profits. Quite simply, doing good is good for business.

How have Unilever achieved this growth? By being a responsible, sustainable business, they have saved money (energy, packaging etc.), won over consumers, fostered innovation and have managed to inspire and engage their people.

Benefits of corporate social responsibility

The Unilever success story is well publicised, but it can be hard to identify with a business of such size. However, the great news is that even the smallest of organisations benefit when putting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the heart of their business.

Whilst profit may be the end goal for any business, responsible businesses have managed to attract more investors, reduced their risks and addressed stakeholder concerns. With there barely being a day in the news where a business hasn’t made an embarrassing error of judgement, more interest is being show in business demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The benefits from adopting CSR can be less obvious than say, helping the environment. For example, a survey from Net Impact found that 53% of workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness. Interestingly, 35% would take a pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR.

Examples of corporate social responsibility

CSR isn’t about giving money to charity, or just asking people not to print emails for the sake of Mother Earth! First and foremost, businesses exist to make profit, and this isn’t meant to change as a goal. The reality is that no organisation operates in isolation; there is interaction with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

So how do you put CSR into action? Below are a few examples of what businesses around the World are doing.

Making ‘green’ fashionable: The Body Shop

The Body Shop forged a reputation as a responsible business long before it became fashionable. They were one of the first companies to publish a full report on their CSR initiatives thanks to founder Anita Roddick’s passionate beliefs of environmental protection, animal rights, community trade and human rights. The company has gone so far as to start The Body Shop Foundation, which supports fellow pioneers who would normally struggle to get funding.

Over 20 years ago the company set up a fair trade programme, well before the term ‘Fair Trade’ started to become popular on supermarket shelves. Of course, The Body Shop is famous for its anti-animal testing stance. Whilst this makes testing their products more difficult, especially in markets such as the USA and Japan, their position has created a loyal customer base. The results? From opening her first store in 1976, 30 years later Annit Roddick’s empire was taken over by L’Oreal for £652m, where it has continued to make annual profits of over £40m.

Putting the fun into CSR: Walt Disney

Moving beyond making cartoons, today the Walt Disney Company additionally owns the ESPN and ABC networks, holiday resorts and publishing businesses to name a few. The result is a lot of social and environmental impact, as well as the ability to influence a huge amount of people.

Importantly, Disney recognised that you can’t entertain a family on the one hand and then disregard the world and circumstances in which they live. Acting responsibly gives the company credibility and authenticity. Accordingly, they have set themselves strict environmental targets and disclose their figures in the Global Reporting Initiative which provides a comprehensive set of indicators covering the economic, environmental and ethical impacts of a company’s performance

Setting ambitious financial targets together with environmental performance targets may sound like an oxymoron, but Disney has managed to do this with initiatives such as running Disneyland trains on biodiesel made with cooking oil from the resort’s hotels. They also created the ‘Green standard’ to engage and motivate employees in reducing their environmental impact when working, having meetings, travelling and eating lunch. With more than 60,000 staff, the results are enormous when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

A clear example of financially benefiting from reducing environmental impact is made with this simply statistic: a 10% reduction in the corporation’s electricity use is enough to power the annual consumption of 3 of their theme parks. Whilst their CSR efforts may have taken a great deal of organisation, dedication and investment, 2012 was a record year for Disney’s profits.

Haagen-Dazs and honeybees

This might sound odd at first, but honeybees are an important part of the global food chain as they pollinate one-third of all the food we eat! With numbers lower than ever, this is bad news for companies such as Haagen-Dazs and their all-natural ice creams. To raise awareness, they created a website, started a social media campaign and donated a portion of proceedings to research.

As you can see, a campaign like works fantastically from a number of different angles. Not only is it helping society as a whole, in keeping with the company’s CSR goals, it helps to show a human side to consumers, which can’t hurt sales. In fact, research shows consumers are more likely to pay a premium for a product linked to a charity donation.

How can CSR translate to a smaller business? The issues are the same, just on a smaller scale. The key is to start by conducting a review of what impacts your business has. This could be from environmental issues (energy use, waste etc.), to how your employees are treated, your supply chain and the local community. Below is a look at some examples a small business would recognise, and could act on.

The environment

Even the smallest of office-based businesses can make big changes when it comes to the environment. When you consider an average office worker can use up to 11 sheets of paper a day, are you really reusing and recycling as much as you could?

A common lapse is forgetting to turn off your PC’s monitor come home time. Left on overnight, that is the equivalent of printing 800 A4 pages! Multiply that by the varying IT equipment in your office and you’re looking at a lot of unnecessary energy use.

The above examples ideally illustrate how thinking sustainability isn’t just good for the environment; it saves overheads and helps the bottom-line too.

Staff welfare

For a smaller business, extravagances can be hard to justify. However, happier staff doesn’t simply mean bonuses and pay rises.

What employees value is participation: do they get a fair say? Keeping staff updated on the business and inviting opinions keeps them motivated and loyal. Investing in them with internal and external training helps them do a better job and helps in retraining them, too. Would you rather invest less and have a poor performing, unmotivated team with a high attrition rate instead?

Community

You can incorporate your staff welfare plans with your aims to boost community relationships too. If you’d like to support a local charity, why not let your staff vote for their favourite? It’s now common for businesses to allocate charity days where staff get hands-on with their chosen charity, the effects going far further than monetary donation.

In uncertain financial times, employment rates are always an issue. Could your business offer part-time work or training to those in long-term employment, or students looking for their first work experience?

Finally, there’s the supply chain. Do you have a policy to purchase locally? With the internet opening up the world, it’s surprising how far away some suppliers are. Not only could sourcing locally boost the local economy, you’re helping the environment by avoiding unnecessary travel and consequent emissions.

It’s surprising when you break down your organisation’s activities to see how many people are affected by it. It’s also clear that CSR isn’t a cynical marketing ploy for big businesses; there are tangible benefits to be had by all. The key is not to treat CSR as an ‘initiative’, but to simply view it as the way you do business. Applying CSR is just redefining aspects of what you’re already doing; it needn’t be exotic or costly. Instead, start small and gain momentum.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Smart Power Opens Minds, Opens Markets

“Why give money to people that don’t like us?”

“We’re broke at home, so how can we afford to send money to people abroad?”

These are the two most oft-repeated objections heard by many US senators and congressmen to spending money on international affairs programs. So why would the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a coalition of over four hundred businesses and non-governmental organizations along with over one hundred thirty retired generals and admirals, call on Congress this week to do exactly that?

It’s just smart business.

A senior sales executive at a major US company recently told me, “We’re the best in the world at designing the next generation of products in [our industry]. But we’re terrible at figuring out the next generation market for those products.” For many American companies, from aviation to pharmaceuticals, the lead-time for product development can take decades. According to this executive, “As a company, we need to be in these developing markets now…investing through our corporate responsibility and citizenship programs,” she said. “That’s why we need partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and folks like USAID…they’ve got intimate knowledge, on the ground in developing nations and can help us build trust in those countries now so we don’t show up late to the party after the Chinese beat us to the punch.”

Programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create enabling environments for American businesses to succeed in overseas markets today.   

Unlike many of our counterparts in Europe and Asia, American businesses don’t always think about export markets.

That has to change. “Outside our borders are markets that represent 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 92 percent of its economic growth, and 95 percent of its consumers,” testified John Murphy, Vice President of International Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.

As these data indicate, the American economy simply can’t afford to ignore export markets any more. In fact, according to Murphy, many American businesses already grasp this reality and take advantage of it, “One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas. Nearly 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses export, accounting for more than one-third of all merchandise exports.”

The most forward-looking companies increasingly use their own “smart power” partnerships with international development agencies and NGOs as a way of opening markets. While a country uses smart power when it intelligently combines hard military power with soft – diplomatic, development, economic – power, companies combine their hard power – revenues, contracts, supply chains – with their soft power – brand, corporate citizenship, public-private partnership, philanthropy. A senior corporate responsibility officer at a major US corporation recently described the use of, “CSR and philanthropy in the ‘pre-competitive’ stage,” as a way of investing in new markets before his products and those of his competitors have reached developing countries in order to build both trust and purchasing capacity. These smart power partnerships are another way the international affairs budget pays dividends for American companies.

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bill Lane, head of Caterpillar‘s Washington Office and Co-President of the USGLC, pointed out that many developing countries have limited ability buy American products and services today. “In these countries the road to development – and the investment, commerce, and trade that follow –may begin (literally) with a road,” testified Lane, “referring to the basic infrastructure that must be improved and, in some cases, created from scratch using machinery and expertise often supplied by companies like Caterpillar.”

Lane said businesses need, “conditions where there are stable governments, transparency, predictability, adequate financial infrastructure, free market economic policies that allow for competition, and rule of law.” Lane voiced the collective conviction of USGLC’s four hundred business and NGO members that, “…programs funded in the International Affairs Budget are vitally important for America’s economic future, national security, and global influence.”

Both Lane and Murphy urged America not “unilaterally disarm,” in the face of growing competition from Chinese and other potential competitors. In their view, the smart power combinations of American businesses, NGOs, and government agencies can level the playing field abroad and expand the economy at home. For firms like Caterpillar, the math is simple, according to Lane, “The more trucks and tractors we sell overseas, the more jobs… in places like Peoria where those vehicles are manufactured.”

Modest investments – the international affairs budget represents just over one percent of the federal budget – can pay big rewards for shareholders, America, and the world. After all, as Bill Gates has said, “Investing in the world’s poorest people is the smartest way our government spends money.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: A Republican Case for Climate Action

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.

The president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons and encourage the United States to join with other nations to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out these chemicals. The landmark international treaty, which took effect in 1989, already has been hugely successful in solving the ozone problem.

Rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in Congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them — domestically and internationally.

As administrators of the E.P.A under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, we held fast to common-sense conservative principles — protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.

That approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world: the pollution of our rivers, dramatized when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969; the hole in the ozone layer; and the devastation wrought by acid rain.

The solutions we supported worked, although more must be done. Our rivers no longer burn, and their health continues to improve. The United States led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering, market-based emissions-trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critics’ warnings, our economy has continued to grow.

Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Business Leaders Call to Action on U.S. Climate Policy by Signing Climate Declaration

Two weeks after President Obama announced plans to address climate change in a major speech, large American businesses are continuing to express their support for U.S. policy action on climate change. Eight more leading businesses, including several multi-billion dollar enterprises, have signed the Climate Declaration, which calls on U.S. policymakers to capture the American economic opportunity of addressing climate change.

The new signatories include leaders in the IT, healthcare, media, hospitality and consumer products sectors: Akamai Technologies, AMD, Dignity Health, K2 Sports, Participant Media, Saunders Hotel Group and The Weather Company. In addition, Mars, Incorporated, one of the nation’s largest private companies, recently endorsed the Climate Declaration when it joined CeresBICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) network in June.

By signing the Climate Declaration, these business leaders join more than 600 other companies, including Starbucks, Nestle, adidas and Patagonia, in asserting, “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century … We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong … There must be a coordinated effort to combat climate change—with America taking the lead here at home.”

“For us, climate change isn’t a political issue; it’s a scientific issue, and the science tells us we have to act,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company. “The Weather Company believes there is an economic opportunity as well as a moral obligation as a good corporate citizen in responding to climate change, and we will continue to inform our viewers and users about the science behind this important issue.”

“Responding to climate change is not only an imperative for the U.S. economy, but it is also an important issue of public health,” said Susan Vickers, RSM, vice president of community health at Dignity Health, the largest hospital system in California. “Reducing the harmful pollutants from power plants will improve air quality in our communities, which are already experiencing the destructive effects of pollution and the changing climate.”

“While there is no debating the scientific evidence of climate change, it is certain there is more debate ahead on the policies needed to combat its effects,” said Anne Kelly, director of BICEP. “The business community has been a strong supportive voice behind climate action, and you can see that reflected in this broad array of business leaders who have joined us in signing the Climate Declaration.”

Over the course of an ongoing campaign organized by Ceres and BICEP, other businesses, as well as individuals, are encouraged to sign the Declaration and join the call to action, along with other advocacy efforts. For more information about the Climate Declaration, please visit www.climatedeclaration.us.

About Ceres
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion. For more information, visit www.ceres.org.

About BICEP
BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres. For more information, visit www.ceres.org/bicep.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Harvard Business School Executive Education offers Corporate Social Responsibility Program

Increasingly, senior corporate executives must find new ways to address the social, economic, and environmental effects of doing business while balancing conflicting demands on their attention, time, and resources. Emphasizing the alignment of corporate social responsibility (CSR) with business strategy in large established companies, this program helps you define priorities, integrate social responsibility throughout your business, and build social and business value. You will strengthen your ability to define and implement powerful CSR strategies that position the firm, its reputation, and its way of doing business for enduring success.

What You Can Expect

Corporate Social Responsibility explores the challenges and opportunities of current CSR models, as well as the next generation of issues that senior business leaders will face. New frameworks and concepts will help you sharpen your program’s focus and integrate social responsibility throughout operations in order to position your enterprise for higher levels of success.

Your Course of Study

This intensive program focuses on the practices of large companies that have successfully created business and social value through focused, aligned, and integrated CSR programs. It provides the practical knowledge and insight you need to improve decision making, leverage partnerships, manage risk, and measure performance.

Who Is Right for the Program

The program is specifically designed for senior executives who direct corporate social responsibility programs or oversee departments such as public affairs, philanthropy, sustainability, environmental health and safety, or community affairs. Senior officers with profit-and-loss responsibilities will benefit from attending.

Social Enterprise Initiative

By integrating social enterprise-related research, teaching, and activities into daily life at HBS, the Social Enterprise Initiative plays a critical role in supporting the School’s mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. Visit the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative website for more information.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Socially conscious: Companies share CSR best practices

Many companies are putting more of a focus on corporate social responsibility’s triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.  These economic, social and ecological values help measure an organization’s success and impact on its customers as well as the world.

Tactics interviewed communications leaders at a variety of companies to find out why CSR is more important now than ever and how they are conveying their socially conscious mindset to their clients and to the community at large. Here’s what communications experts from Ben & Jerry’s, Discovery Communications, Eastman Kodak and Microsoft had to say:

Liz Brenna, “PR Chick,” Ben & Jerry’s

Why is corporate social responsibility important for Ben & Jerry’s?
Ben & Jerry’s was founded on Ben’s principle “Business has a responsibility to give back to the community.” Giving back and being a company with values has been a part of  Ben & Jerry’s mission since day one. We have a three-part mission statement that encompasses our values and is a part of our daily business decisions.

How does your company display its socially conscious mindset to its customers?
Being an activist brand, we reach out through our campaigns, flavors, programs, values-led sourcing, social justice initiatives — leading with our values and the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.

Why should organizations give back to their communities?
As Ben has mentioned in the past, business has become one of the biggest forces in the world, if not the biggest, and with that comes a huge impact on the world. Business needs to operate in a global society consciously and act as a responsible member of the world.  The real question should be: How isn’t it important?

Michelle Russo, Senior  Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications, Discovery Communications

Why should organizations give back to their communities?
The communities where Discovery has office locations are the communities where our employees and their families live and work.  Volunteering in schools, providing assistance to in-need individuals, promoting HIV/AIDS and environmental awareness, and supporting local community organizations and causes are ways that Discovery and its employees give back.  These types of activities are important to ensure that our employees live in thriving communities so that Discovery can continue to attract the best and brightest to work for the company.

Although our worldwide employees give back throughout the year, this year, in honor of Discovery’s 25th Anniversary, we are having our first global volunteerism day — Discover Your Impact Day — with 3,000 employees participating in 40 locations and 145 projects around the world.

What role is social media playing in your CSR efforts?
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in Discovery’s CSR efforts. Facebook, Twitter and the recently launched Discovery Blog provide additional platforms for Discovery to raise awareness about its CSR efforts, to generate discussion among viewers and to provide a community for those who want to get involved.

Karen Bergin, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs and Citizenship, Microsoft Corporation

Why is corporate social responsibility important for Microsoft?
It’s fair to say that Microsoft has a culture of social responsibility, which was ingrained by the company’s founders in 1975.

Since that time, the company has [had] a strong commitment to giving back both through cash and in-kind donations ($3.9 billion since 1983) as well as through technology, partnerships and our people.  There is no question that business today has a clear responsibility to participate and contribute in a positive way in our communities.

The key is to focus on ensuring that CSR activities are aligned with the business — this ensures that it is both effective and sustainable.  We recognize the importance of CSR: It contributes to our business by helping us learn more about how people all over the world use technology; it is demanded by our staff.

How does your company display its environmentally friendly and socially conscious mindset to its customers?
Environmental sustainability is a long-term business strategy at Microsoft and we are focused on creating software and technology innovations that help people and organizations around the world improve the environment.

We continually work to reduce the impact of our operations and products and partner with global environmental organizations, experts and academics to pursue ways to use technology to help accelerate the transition to a cleaner, more energy efficient economy.

Why should organizations give back to their communities?
Fundamentally, companies have a responsibility to the communities in which they operate. First, a company’s most important asset is its people, all of whom are part of that community. Second, a company’s key stakeholders — including customers, partners and investors — expect responsible leadership and active participation.  And finally, companies can actively learn through corporate social responsibility.

For example, our products include direct feedback garnered from people in communities around the world.

What role is social media playing in your CSR efforts?
Social media is presenting exciting new opportunities for connecting and engaging with people. It is especially relevant for CSR [because] people like to have a direct dialogue with the company. It enables us to tell interesting and compelling stories in new ways. However, social media must be tightly integrated with traditional communications and directly aligned with core objectives. Rather than treating social media as a distinct activity, one needs to think about it holistically.

Christopher Veronda,  APR, Manager, Corporate Communications, Eastman Kodak Company

Why is corporate social responsibility important for Kodak?
At Kodak, we use the term “sustainability” and define it as encompassing the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental success. It’s about doing well and doing good. In other words, being a successful company and a company that contributes to the advancement of society should be viewed as complementary and synergistic goals.

How does your company display its socially conscious mindset to its customers?
Customers are increasingly bringing up sustainability in their conversations with us.  They want to know about innovations that make us better stewards of the world’s resources so that they, too, can become better stewards.

One recent step we took was the introduction of a green and yellow leaf logo to identify environmental improvements or programs unique to Kodak.  The logo will also appear in tandem with the tagline “Kodak Cares” in communicating about corporate sustainability and environmental initiatives.

Why should organizations give back to their communities?
Kodak has a long-standing tradition of giving that dates [back] to our founder, George Eastman, who gave away much of his fortune during his lifetime with a particular focus on higher education — including historically Black colleges. In our headquarters of Rochester, N.Y., he founded what has become one of the most successful United Way drives worldwide. Eastman established the tradition that giving to the community, especially to its youth, is an investment in tomorrow.

 


 

Making PR socially responsible and sustainable

Green Earth PR Network brings together consultants across the country who work with organizations to integrate green practices into B-to-B and B-to-C communications.

The consultants at Green Earth work with clients who are “committed to sustainability’s triple bottom line, whether they are leading or starting that journey,” says Nancy Rogers, founder, Green Earth PR Network. “Our portfolio and pro-bono work, along with our business operations and lifestyles reflect this position, as do our tweets, our blog and our daily business decisions.”

Social media plays a big role in the company’s CSR efforts too. These platforms can help expand messages exponentially to audiences that may not be reachable through traditional media outlets, says Louise Mulherin, founding consultant, Green Earth PR Network. “Such tools should amplify — not replace — those traditional forms of outreach,” she says, stressing that it is critical that CSR-related messages are authentic, transparent and supported by the organization’s actions.

“In an increasingly competitive marketplace, consumers are looking for companies that not only produce a quality product or service, but also reflect their own values,” says Mulherin. “CSR must be viewed as all encompassing — from the way a company does business to how it treats employees, the environment and the local community. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, not a PR program of the month.”

Mulherin adds that from the client standpoint, it’s important for B-to-B companies to have a presence in the local community. Clients should develop outreach programs and partner with local organizations to engage the local community, while reflecting the company’s overall ideas on social responsibility. Rogers agrees that it is important to give back. “As individuals and organizations, we are members of our community, whether at the neighborhood or global level,” she says. “We cannot forget — it’s one world and we’re all connected. We influence and impact the future both by the opportunities we follow and those we miss.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com