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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

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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

United States Carbon: How Green Trends Will Impact Your Business

The term “green” evokes a wide array of meanings, spanning political ideology, lifestyle choices, and climate change. So when businesses hear the term green, it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion.

Here are three trends where green is a key element, but not the key driver.

Sharing Is Changing Consumption and Commerce

The sharing economy permeates nearly every facet of every industry. From cars to the driveways left empty when they’re gone, the Internet has made it easier than ever to sell idle resources. Lisa Gansky, one of the catalysts helping companies tap into sharing, describes a perfect storm of accessible data, the open Web, and connected communities as a “cocktail” being tested by businesses in every vertical.

Companies should be looking inward at their own idle resources and figuring out how to provide that information to other businesses, or municipalities. New revenue streams will come from services that can be reconfigured or modified to operate within these sharing communities and networks.

“Data is a kind of connective tissue and when we liberate data (between communities, companies, investors, governments), we play better, faster,” Gansky said in a recent interview. She says that sharing is being accelerated by the next big social network, and it’s not Facebook FB +4.18%. It’s the neighborhood.

The Economist built on that notion in a profile of the sharing economy’s impact: “The idea of renting from a person rather than a faceless company will survive, even if the early idealism of the sharing economy does not.”

Tapping Into Greener Transportation

Businesses are finding ways to tie into the rise of walk-able communities. Marketing opportunities are everywhere as smartphones become more connected to the open data available on the Web. Companies like RideScout can now deliver multiple transit options to its users, whether they prefer pedicabs or ZipCars.

The transparency of transit data has much larger implications, especially when it comes to cities. That’s one of the areas where opportunity exists for small business. Faced with rising populations, traffic congestion and parking woes, city officials are taking matters into their own hands.

Portland is a prime example, highlighted in a CitiWire article: ”It has a 35-year-old urban growth boundary to curb sprawl, plus America’s only regional governance structure. It leads in transportation – not just regional light rail but America’s first streetcar service of recent times.”

That’s an approach that should buoy businesses in every sector, certainly ones that adapt their products and services to complement the urban density model that continues to develop. It’s an obvious step to see all sorts of businesses eventually appear alongside the bus routes on RideScout’s app.

The nation’s capital has similar initiatives for which sustainable transportation is the centerpiece of economic development.

The CitiWire article goes on to report, “[Washington D.C.] Mayor Vincent Gray has just unveiled proposals to create the ‘healthiest, greenest and most livable’ city in America with a raft of measures to curb energy use, reduce traffic and boost use of fresh fruits and vegetables. By 2032, a quarter of all commuter trips would be by bike or foot and at least half by public transit. Major chunks of energy would be delivered from nearby wind farms.”

Other cities are sure to follow as fuel prices rise, populations increase, and better infrastructure emerges. Businesses that capitalize on these trends will reap the early awards.

The Built Environment and Boosting Your Profile

Improving productivity and differentiating your business are constant challenges. An easy way to boost both is by plugging into the green building movement. Aligning with local providers that can help with energy rebates can easily spur some economic gains. Beyond the numbers, productivity can also be lifted through smarter and more efficient design. Healthier employees are happier and more productive.

A recent New York Times article highlighted research from an affordable housing community in Seattle that showed how small changes can have big effects. Spurred by medical research, a local coalition of architects, designers and citizen-led groups were able to impact asthma rates within 60 ”Breathe Easy Homes” with better air filters, less carpet, and low-allergen landscaping.

The Times reports, ”A study in 2010 performed by the University of Washington School of Public Health found that the Breathe Easy residents had reduced emergency room and urgent care visits by 67% and that symptom-free days had increased by 61%. As designers, that was the first time that we had really seen a direct relationship shown between the built environment and the health of residents.”

It’s easy to see how that could translate to your workplace.

Another project that promotes healthy work sites is the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI), an organization started to accelerate best practices in sustainable land development and management. It has pilot projects across the country that are taking green spaces beyond atria and waterfalls.

By using SSI’s framework for “healthy ecosystems,” commercial businesses can cut costs and drive efficiency with better land-use decisions. Whether it’s a restaurant, corporate campus, or small business, standards are emerging to address everything from native landscapes and irrigation, to zero waste and air quality.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an SSI partner, says it anticipates certain guidelines and benchmarks might be included in future iterations of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.

United States Carbon’s commitment shows how the big picture is starting to play out for businesses in every industry. Companies of all sizes are being judged not only by how much they’re growing, but how that growth impacts surrounding communities.

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: Climate Change

Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (ghg) in the atmosphere have increased dramatically in the past few decades. Solar energy is a renewable resource available within every geographic region of the U.S. with great potential to significantly reduce our nation’s ghg emissions.

Quick Facts

  • Top sectors producing ghg emissions in the U.S.: the electric power industry (33%), transportation (28%), industry (20%), and commercial and residential combined (11%)
  • Both concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies produce clean, emissions-free electricity that can help reduce U.S. ghg emissions
  • Solar heating and cooling systems can provide about 80% of the energy used for space heating and water heating needs.

Overview

Many scientists now agree that climate change is caused by an increase of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in the atmosphere. The ghg emissions in the United States come from a variety of different economic sectors, with the most prominent sectors being the electric power industry (33%), followed by transportation (28%), then industry (20%), and commercial and residential combined (11%).[1] While there may be not be one technology that can reduce all U.S. ghg emissions to zero, solar technologies come close. Solar energy is a solution to climate change and can significantly reduce emissions in each of these sectors.

Electric Sector

More than a third of U.S. ghg emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity usage in buildings and homes. Both Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic (PV) technologies produce clean, emissions-free electricity and can feed this electricity right back into the U.S. grid. Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) technologies can also be used to displace the need for electricity. As of Q1 2013, the U.S. now has over 8,500 MW of cumulative installed solar electric capacity, enough to power more than 1.3 million average American homes.[2]

Transportation Sector

Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are widely seen as one of the near-term climate change solutions in the transportation sector, especially when these vehicles are charged by a station powered by solar energy.

Industrial Sector

The U.S. is a highly industrialized country, and therefore a large portion of our ghg emissions stem from the industrial sector. The manufacturing of common materials such as aluminum and steel are energy intensive and generate high levels of ghg emissions. One of the main uses for energy in the industrial sector is for boiler fuel, meaning that energy is needed to generate steam or heat water, which is then transferred to a boiler vessel.  Another use for energy is for process heating, when energy is directly used to raise the temperature in a manufacturing process, such as in drying paint in the automobile industry, and cooking packaged foods.[3] Solar energy can offset the need for fossil fuels by generating high-temperature and medium-temperature heat from CSP and SHC technologies.

Commercial and Residential Sectors

The commercial sector includes buildings such as offices, malls, warehouses, schools, restaurants, and hospitals, while the residential sector consists of homes and apartments. Both commercial and residential buildings spend the majority of the energy consumed on space heating, space cooling, and water heating. This is a perfect application for SHC technologies, as the SHC systems can provide about 80% of the energy used for space heating and water heating needs. Furthermore, solar air conditioning can be used as a clean, emissions-free solution to meet cooling needs instead of using electricity.

Life-Cycle Assessment

Solar produces less life-cycle ghg emissions than conventional fossil fuel energy sources.[4] While there may be some ghg emissions produced during the manufacturing and recycling of the solar system, the generation of energy from the solar system results in zero ghg emissions and zero environmental impact.

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: Environmentally Conscious Companies Have More Productive Employees

If a company is trying to be better for the planet, its workers will strive to be better for the company.

Want to increase employee productivity? You could give everyone the option of working from home–or you could make your company more environmentally responsible.

A recent study from researchers at UCLA looked at how companywide “green” standards affect employee productivity and found that businesses that follow international environmental standards have employees that are 16% more productive than less sustainable companies.

Whether a company is sustainable or not is certainly subjective, so the researchers relied on certifications to help: a company was included if it was organic, Fair Trade, or conformed to the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14001 environmental management standard.

Information on individual companies was taken from data acquired by a French employer-employee survey of 10,600 people at 5,220 companies, while productivity was measured “as the logarithm of the firm’s value added by the number of employees,” according to the paper. The result: environmentally conscious companies are more productive.

It may not just be the sustainability of these companies that’s increasing productivity, however. “These companies have a cluster of good practices, like more training and better relationships among employees,” explained study co-author Magali Delmas in an interview with Ecomagination. “These are companies that people want to work for.” In other words, companies that are better managed may be environmentally aware as a result–the productivity boost comes from good management, not necessarily from organic or Fair Trade certification.

There is much more research to be done in this area, as the researchers acknowledge in their paper: “The literature so far has focused mostly on the impact of the adoption of corporate social responsibility practices at the macro level and our research opens the path to investigate the more micro organizational impacts of the adoption of such practices. Scholars could, for example, test the effect of environmental standards on safety, stress, or employee absenteeism.”

But for now, the news on employee productivity should give another talking point to anyone arguing for more efficient and environmentally aware companies.

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: Companies that Practice “Conscious Capitalism” Perform 10x Better

Even today, “conscious” and “capitalism” remain unlikely bedfellows. Both are freighted words that have come to stand for fundamentally different worldviews. Capitalism is associated with individualism, personal ambition, the accumulation of wealth and power, and an identity grounded in external accomplishment. The word conscious, or more specifically consciousness, is associated with self-awareness, personal development, the greater good, and a worldview that eschews competition, hierarchy, and materialism.

The thesis of conscious capitalism — outlined in a new book of the same title by John Mackey, founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, and his thought partner, Raj Sisodia, a business professor — is that capitalism can be a force both for economic and social good. Or as Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics, puts it in the book’s introduction: “Well run, values-centered businesses can contribute to humankind in more tangible ways than any other organization in society.”

I don’t kid myself about the unenlightened and even cruel ways capitalism has been practiced by many companies: accumulating wealth for a few while paying most employees subsistence wages; fighting regulation while blithely degrading the environment; avoiding taxes and ignoring responsibilities for the communities in which they’re based. The truth is I meet few CEOs or senior executives at large companies who seem to have a vision much beyond the next quarter’s earnings, or a sense of responsibility and commitment to their employees, customers, suppliers, and communities that equals their focus on their shareholders.

But I did last week. Even more than anything the eight CEOs I met had to say — and much of it was inspiring — I felt moved by them as people. They made no demands to be treated as “special” during the conference. We all stayed in simple quarters, with no access to cell phone service. They listened when others spoke. And they invested three days with one another for no other reason I could discern than to learn, and build a community of like-minded colleagues.

At the most basic level, consciousness simply means being conscious of more. That begins with self-awareness — the willingness to look inside, to acknowledge our limitations, uncertainties and fears, and to take responsibility for our actions. Mackey has drawn some critical attention for his libertarian views, and I found myself debating with him frequently over the three days. But I also found him to be open, real, vulnerable, and deeply committed to growing and becoming more conscious. How many leaders would be willing to say, as Mackey does: “The company was unable to grow until I was able to evolve — in other words I was holding the company back. My personal growth enabled the company also to evolve.”

I also admire leaders who put their money where their mouths are. The Container Store‘s CEO Kip Tindell explained why he pays full-time sales employees a minimum of nearly $50,000 a year — approximately double the average for retail stores. Put simply, Tindell believes the best and most motivated employees, which he says the store is consistently able to attract, are three times as productive as an average worker. One of the payoffs is a turnover rate under 20 percent — a fraction of the turnover that most of his retail competitors endure.

Consciousness is also about being socially conscious — recognizing and taking responsibility for the needs of the larger community. Blake Mycoskie, who founded Tom’s Shoes at age 26, talked about the profitable business he’s built on a model of giving a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes the company sells. Shubhro Sen, who leads people development for Tata, the huge, privately-owned Indian conglomerate, described the founding tenet of the company that endures to this day: “We earn our profits from society and they should go back into society.” Most of the company today is owned by philanthropic trusts.

I took away from these three days a very clear and inspiring message. It’s not necessary to choose up sides between consciousness and capitalism, self-interest and the broader interest, or personal development and service to others. Rather, they’re each inextricably connected, and they all serve one another.

Raj Sisodia looked at 28 companies he identified as the most conscious — “firms of endearment” as he terms them — based on characteristics such as their stated purpose, generosity of compensation, quality of customer service, investment in their communities, and impact on the environment.

The 18 publicly traded companies out of the 28 outperformed the S&P 500 index by a factor of 10.5 over the years 1996-2011. And why, in the end, should that be a surprise? Conscious companies treat their stakeholders better. As a consequence, their suppliers are happier to do business with them. Employees are more engaged, productive, and likely to stay. These companies are more welcome in their communities and their customers are more satisfied and loyal. The most conscious companies give more, and they get more in return. The inescapable conclusion: it pays to care, widely and deeply.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com