How to Run a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Business

Hands growing a young plant / protect nature and environment concept to grow along with the child.

Identify the unique social/environmental issues in your particular industry and learn how to infuse a social/environmental cause into your business.

Evolve: Changing the Purpose of Business, A Short and Simple Business Guide to Social and Environmental Responsibility

A 30 minute read that provides a snapshot of everything you need to know about social and environmental responsibility in business. Available for purchase on Amazon.

Create a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Business

Below is a list of general resources and tips to help your business integrate CSR and social/environmental initiatives:

  • B Corporation Certification[1] is a private certification issued to businesses (including sole proprietors, small businesses and publicly traded companies) by a global non-profit organization called B Lab. To be granted certification, companies must receive a minimum score on their social and environmental performance. Visit www.bcorporation.net to learn more.
  • ISO Certification helps to ensure that a company’s products and services are high-quality. The ISO 14000[2] series shows a commitment to sustainable environmental practices and helps companies to meet environmental regulations. ISO 26000 provides detailed guidance on social responsibility to organizations of all sizes—the publication can be purchased from the ISO website. Visit www.iso.org to learn more.
  • United Nations Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Visit www.unglobalcompact.org to learn more.
  • 3rd Party CSR Reporting, Certifications, and Environmental Audits can be obtained from several sources depending on what industry you are in. Below are three examples:
    1. In addition to internal ESG/CSR reporting to stakeholders, external (3rd party) sustainability reports help a company to build validity and credibility with the public. GRI is an international organization that provides support for sustainability reporting. Visit www.globalreporting.org to learn more.
    2. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification program helping to make buildings and communities environmentally and socially responsible. Visit www.usgbc.org to learn more.
    3. GBB Certification (Green Business Bureau) provides assessment tools and planning to help businesses become certified as a green business. Visit www.greenbusinessbureau.com to learn more.
  • Create an environmental policy. A written policy helps companies to implement a better management system to reduce environmental impact. In some industries, an environmental management policy is mandatory.
  • Create a CSR Section on Your Company Website Add a page about your commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility to your website. Consumers value transparency. Be sure to state your social and environmental mission, the ways in which you are implementing CSR, and your future goals for improvement.
  • Use Government Guides to (CSR) Corporate Social Responsibility Governments often provide free downloadable guides for businesses on how to implement CSR, depending on which country you live in.
  • Create an Internal Social and Environmental Team You can set up an environmental and/or social team within your company through which your employees can participate and contribute ideas. The team can focus on ways to improve the company’s carbon footprint and social impact.

Additional Sustainability Tips:

  • Measure your company’s environmental impact regularly.
  • Find out the unique environmental concerns in your specific area and industry.
  • Share your progress of sustainable development with the public.
  • Practice green procurement by ensuring that purchases from suppliers are environmentally responsible. Check the environmental impact of each supplier. Businesses have tremendous purchasing power and can send a message to suppliers of the importance of sustainability. Sustainable products are often less toxic and hazardous to people and the planet.

[1] B Lab (n.d.): “Certified B Corporation”, www.bcorporation.net, Accessed: January 21, 2020

[2] ISO (n.d.): “ISO 14000 Family – Environmental Management”, www.iso.org, Accessed: January 24, 2020

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