By Colleen Beaty, Senior Research Assistant, Wildlife Habitat Council
Many of today’s corporations choose to incorporate Corporate Social Responsibility into their business practices, with a Corporate Responsibility Strategy (CR strategy) to provide written guidance to employees. Although a CR strategy can focus on charitable donations, it is possible to develop a CR strategy that is in fact profitable and tackles issues that our members care about, such as habitat conservation and education. David Michael Jerome and Rob Kleinbaum over at GreenBiz recently wrote an article detailing 7 steps to developing a profitable Corporate Responsibility Strategy . These steps are:
- Insist on profitability.
- Link to the company’s core purpose.
- Understand customers.
- Focus on the right issues.
- Everyone finds energy costs, fuel prices, and energy independence personally relevant.
- Use the organization properly.
- Other benefits.
WHC’s Wildlife at WorkSMand Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL)SMprograms are a high-visibility, tangible route to incorporating these steps into your company’s CR strategy, and thus can fit seamlessly into profitable CR strategy development.
A CR strategy that focuses on business value can help a company to save or make money while still meeting the challenges of social and environmental issues. Many Wildlife at Work projects can save you a great deal of money over the long term. A classic example of this is reduced mowing: by switching from a traditional weekly mowing schedule to a once-yearly mowing schedule, you save money on mowing and labor. You can incur further savings by replacing areas of non-native lawn grass with native grasses and wildflowers, which will require less irrigation and fertilization than turf grasses and will also create high value habitat.
Demonstrating that your company cares about the same issues that consumers and investors do, and is willing to change its business practices in response to those issues, can influence consumers’ and investors’ purchasing habits in favor of your company. Among the issues identified by Jerome & Kleinbaum as being the most relevant to today’s consumers are environmental and energy issues, most notably wildlife/forest preservation and energy/water conservation. Incorporating a Wildlife at Work program to preserve and enhance habitat, as well as a CLL program to educate employees and community members about conservation issues, will demonstrate to people that your company is in touch with their values.
Many facilities have found it hard to maintain budgets for Wildlife at Work and CLL programs during this difficult economic period. Support from the CEO and other members of upper management will help reinforce the importance of your company’s CR strategy and protect budgets, such as budgets for purchasing seeds, tools, and conservation education curricula.
A good CR strategy will engage both your employees and your surrounding community. Outreach is a critical aspect of successful Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for Learning programs, so incorporating WHC’s programs into your CR strategy will benefit your company and increase the success of your WHC programs.
Several of WHC’s member companies have already successfully incorporated WHC and its programs into their CR strategies. For information about incorporating WHC into your CR strategy, please contact WHC’s main office at (301) 588-8994.