Going Green: Environmental Awareness Linked to Long-term Success
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involves an awareness of the environmental impact a business may have on its surroundings. Waste produced in factory processes, over consumption of natural resources, and an excessive carbon footprint are issues with which modern-day businesses may have to contend.
Though some governments have stepped forward to limit the environmental impact of business in the wake of increased evidence of global warming, research suggests businesses, which voluntarily decrease their carbon footprint, may enjoy increased financial success and an improved public image. This may be promoted as “Going Green” which has a substantially positive public impression. When McDonalds changed their packaging from polystyrene to recyclable cardboard/paper there was an unfavourable reaction to the convenience of the packaging which was however overcome and outweighed by the positive reaction to the “greenness” of the new wrappers.
It is interesting to note that household waste separation, that is separating recyclable waste from non-recyclable waste, has been adopted voluntarily by most developed economies. Whilst adoption has been mandated by law in some societies, this was largely as a budgetary issue for the governing authority. The uptake and popularity of the separation system is attributed to the fact that it simply makes people feel better about disposal of waste.
Although the primary goal of most corporations is profit, CSR initiatives seek to temper this motive by integrating better business models. Often, CSR practices result in increased profits. Reduced energy consumption is an example of cost savings, which equate to increased profits. Reducing energy consumption has the effect of also lowering the output of carbon into the atmosphere, protecting the environment and assisting in the sustainability of its clients. As the planet’s natural resources are depleted and leaders worldwide seek to restrict access to common energy sources, businesses, which find new production means, may have a distinct advantage in future markets.
Public image is an important element in business. Developing and maintaining a positive public reputation is important to long-term success. Voluntarily engaging in planet-friendly business practices is a way to better public perception. Companies like General Electric, Toyota, Nike, and Hewlett-Packard have all made steps to lower their environmental impact, and each has in turn been rewarded with financial and marketing success. Making small changes in business practice, such as lowering energy consumption and creating more sustainable packaging, often pays off long-term with financial profits and public approval.