Socially Responsible Business

“The successful business of the future will be built
on relationship, common purpose, and shared values.”

— Nina Utne, Utne Magazine Chair and CEO

Socially responsible and sustainable business/green business:
caring for our human and natural resources

to create a healthy world and healthy businesses.

A socially responsible business:

  1. Sees business as a tool for positive social change

  2. Is values-driven, as well as profit-driven

  3. Is socially and environmentally responsible in how it sources, manufactures ad runs office and operations.

  4. Is committed to practices that benefit not only you, the owner, but also your workers, community, customers and the environment.

(adapted from Sarasota Green Connection)

I wanted to share with you these points from a great company, New Leaf Paper, and their 2010 Sustainability Outlook.

While we can never be certain what the future has in store, we have a pretty well-developed sense of what is likely to come having been immersed in sustainability for over 10 years. 2010 is shaping up to be a great year as we look to pull out of the recession and into more prosperous and sustainable times. We believe you are likely to see many, if not all, of these 10 trends manifest in the coming year.

1. Carbon go lightly – Labels declaring the CO2 emissions associated with production will start appearing on consumer products.

2. Got water? – As water quality and shortage issues gain exposure companies will take steps to identify and mitigate their risks and increase efficiency.

3. Sustain chain – Sustainability measures will take on broader impacts throughout supply chains, which will also increase in transparency.

4. We’re listening – New tools will be used to create two-way communication between companies and their customers.

5. Allied forces – These partnerships will become a commonplace way to maintain trust between companies, organizations, and customers.

6. Engaged – Stakeholder engagement will become increasingly important and provide new benefits to businesses, customers, employees and other stakeholders.

7. Sustainable Brands – More companies will “walk the talk” by matching sustainable brand images with internal company behavior.

8. Revisiting Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- A range of techniques will be used to reduce and recycle waste in new ways.

9. Powerful new detergents help you cut through greenwashing – Certification systems and advertising standards will grow as consumers become less tolerant of greenwashing.

10. Life beyond death – Life cycle assessment metrics will be used to assess environmental impacts and help designers create more sustainable products.

If you want to be more strategic about “going green” contact Jennifer Woofter at  Strategic Sustainability Consulting (SSC). She specializes in helping clients find business value in environmental and social responsibility initiatives through green audits, sustainability planning and reporting, and employee training. Having helped Jennifer in my role as coach/consultant to continue on her path in growing a successful business, I can attest to the fact that she’s extremely good at what she does.

Making the world a better place starts from within. The more we have cleared out the blocks to our own personal successful functioning, the more the work we do out in the world will come from a good place and be effective in creating meaningful, prosperous and healthy businesses and actions for positive change. As a coach, I work with my clients to do just that, as well as provide them with a myriad of practical strategies and tools for planning, sales, marketing, operations, time management, and employee management.

There is no set definition of what constitutes a socially responsible business. I’ve listed below some elements you may want to consider if you haven’t already implemented them in your business or organization. Please send me your ideas on this subject because I am continually expanding this page.

Click here to read case studies of some of the many US companies practicing socially responsible and sustainable business: Dr. Bronners, The Body Shop & Patagonia.
More case studies coming soon. Let me know about what your company is doing! Let’s share our ideas, our valiant attempts and our successes.

Socially responsible business – practices to consider:

  • Local & global community involvement through volunteering, investment, donations

  • Employee benefits & rights, profit-sharing

  — Open books

  — Financial statements are available to all employees

 — Employees receive training on how to read and understand financial statements

  — Employees see relationship between their efforts and amount of profit sharing they receive

 —  Employees understand the challenges and expenses of the company; reduces “us vs. them” mentality.

  • Coach-approach management style accountability + autonomy

 —  Employees want to contribute, but they need progressive management to do so.

  • Salary scale capped at certain levels between lowest & highest paid positions

Sustainable business areas to consider:

  • (Renewable resources, recycled, recyclable, organic, etc.)

  • Manufacturing production materials

  • Energy conservation

  • Packaging

  • Office supplies & furniture

  • Distribution methods

  • Physical plant/office — materials, utilities

  • Post-sale recycling

  • Closed-loop planning in all areas


companies we keep book

I highly recommend John Abrams’ book, Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the business of community and place. This is a revision of his 2005 book, The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community and Place. He takes you through the history of South Mountain, a 32-year-old design/build company he founded and examines the eight cornerstone philosophies and practices that underpin South Mountain and any green business that wants to harness the power of employee ownership, workplace democracy and community commitment