What To Watch Out For When Looking For A Socially Responsible Company
Businesses brag a lot about being “good corporate citizens.” Cut through the fog to see if their efforts are real.
Ahh, the cut and thrust of working for a business. Fast paced and decently paid. Always with an eye on profits.
You thrive in the private sector, yet you care about the world around you. So the companies on your radar screen have to reflect those values. Lots of firms claim to be socially responsible. Finding ones that practice what they preach isn’t always straightforward.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Revenue rules in business. You, however, are more about a triple bottom-line: planet, people, and profits. Whatever else your company does, it mustn’t plunder the environment, exploit employees, or treat customers and suppliers like dirt.
What should you look for?
Leadership that make CSR and corporate citizenship a priority. Anyone can call themselves sustainability-focused. But without such practices and initiatives in place, it may be a smokescreen.
Protecting the planet is popular. A company is serious about eco-initiatives if it…
• reduces, reuses and recycles, and has in-house greening incentives
• uses green-certified energy and hybrid or electric vehicles
• measures and reports its carbon footprint and minimizes waste
• uses organic or renewable ingredients
From supporting local youth groups to partnering with international NGOs (non-governmental organizations), the list includes;
• donating to nonprofits that improve the world
• using local resources and paying a fair price
• sponsoring community improvement initiatives
• giving to local sports teams, scholarships and the like
• sustainable supply chain management, e.g., getting resources from conflict-free sources
• if there are international branches, abiding by Fair Trade practices
Treatment of Employees
What good is an outwardly responsible employer if it neglects its own workers? Look for;
• fair wages and benefits for all employees
• equal opportunity, diversity encouragement
• excellent health and safety record and a commitment to worker wellness
• a reputation for being ethical so that your values won’t be compromised
• adequate vacation and leave policies starting year one of employment
• employee volunteering days with full pay
• shares and other ownership stakes are part of the compensation package
• democratic decision making
• a merit-based reward system
Locating Socially Responsible Companies
Companies committed to CSR are likely to have a section of their website devoted to these activities. Maybe they’re a member of a corporate citizenship association, have received an award or public recognition for their practices, or are on a list of top reputable or ethical employers. Check out for-profit social enterprises and B Companies too.
Publicly traded firms issue annual reports. They usually include a section noting their commitment to good citizenship. Also, mid-sized and larger businesses should employ at least one person in a purely CSR role. Big corporations might even have a Chief Sustainability Officer and related staff.
Don’t Get Conned
Companies tend to boast on social media about their corporate citizenship. Watch out for superficial claims. Their brags could be nothing more than a form of image building.
When researching any potential employer, it’s on you to uncover their workplace realities. Network to connect with contacts who have firsthand knowledge. Read sites that feature uncensored reviews about that business.
The private sector’s getting wise to CSR’s benefits and you can make a good buck while preserving your ethics.