BE Blogs: A Voice for Responsible Business

As part of our sustainability pledge to discuss best practices openly and honestly, we share insights that allow others to effect change in their community. While companies have responsibility to drive change internally, we believe they also can add to their insights and impact by sharing their experience with others.

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Green: Generic Sustainability Term or Smart Buzzword?

Feb 21, 2012   //   by Lacey Miller   //   Marketing & Communication, Metrics & ROI, Terminology  //  No Comments

When I begin to discuss sustainability with people, I get a lot of blank stares and questions. I then default to the buzzword ‘green’…

“Oh, I understand what that means!”

But that easy and fast response tends to make me cringe.

I am so passionate about sustainability but qualifying it with the concept of green, triggers images of hippies chained to trees. What I am talking about is an all encompassing term that defines responsibility; responsibility to our environment, our local communities and the world. I don’t want to deemphasize the importance of sustainability with such a simple word but I also know that an easy understanding of the concept is the only way we will grow the importance of sustainability…and, I will admit, in the world of SEO, green is a major keyword.

So what does green mean?

As a marketing mind, I consult Wikipedia for societal and trending definitions, and I found exactly the cliché explanation I was looking for:

“Recent political groups have taken on the color as symbol of environmental protection and social justice, and consider themselves part of the Green movement, some naming themselves Green parties. This has led to similar campaigns in advertising, as companies have sold green, or environmentally friendly, products.”

Another cringe-worthy moment as I read about the Green movement and green products in one paragraph. One speaks to capitalism and a greater economy; the other, to that “green” cleaning product you just bought that is “better for you and the environment”.  Green tends to be overused and misused, usually highlighting only a small piece of sustainability; I want to broaden people’s view with a much wider range of topics, the important ones.

In an article by Bahar Gidwani, he identified the rainbow of sustainability, the numerous “colors” that define this growing market. He surveyed a few thousand users from his site, CSRHub, and assigned a color to the different focuses of each group.

Green: environment focused; this group ranked environmental issues as their highest concern.

Blue: community and employee focused; this group pushed up the importance of community and employee engagement, and de-emphasized environment and governance.

Red: governance focused; this group wanted companies to be ethical, have a balanced and diverse board, and to be transparent about their behavior.

Grey: “all things being equal”; this large group of people declared all topics of sustainability to be more or less equal.

White: follow a leader; these members did not have a strong opinion, or they were more interested to know how “everyone else” feels about various issues.

Perfect; we now have a wider spectrum of colors to help us break down sustainability but what will really help professionals define this growing industry?

Robert Pojasek, via GreenBiz.com, defined sustainability as follows:

“Sustainability is about behaving in a way that can be continued or sustained. To operate sustainably, an organization must act in a way that is consistent with and supports the well-being of the physical environment and all of the biological communities and economies of the locations where they operate.”

He didn’t mention ‘green’ once and defined sustainability in a way that people can understand, well most people; Pojasek’s definition may elicit a few blank stares as it is strongly intellectual.

I want to move away from the simplicity of green but still use common words that give a smart, but understandable definition.  Then I came across and article by Tim Mohin titled “Less is More Obvious: Why Sustainability Is So Hard To Define.” Mohin put it as simply as this,

“It is an expectation that you treat people and our planet with respect.”

Amazingly well put. Society lives off this planet, we will affect it but we can control the repercussions by respecting the world around us.

What do you think? Is ‘green’ too strong and important of a buzzword to leave out or can we start to explain sustainability by using words such as respect and responsibility?

Corporate Sustainability is NOT a Political Issue

Jan 11, 2012   //   by Bradley Short   //   Energy, Leadership, Regulation, Social Entrepreneurship, The Environment  //  No Comments

At this contentious time in American politics, it seems like just about everything is becoming a political issue.  Sustainability, sadly, hasn’t been spared the wrath of heated political rhetoric.

The ongoing debate about issues like federal subsidies, climate change mitigation, and natural gas fracking might make corporate sustainability look like a politically divisive thing.  But that’s simply not the case.  Corporate sustainability is as mainstream as it gets, so you’d better commit your company to a greener future if you want to remain competitive in the years to come.

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BE Profiles HireBetter: How a Lean, Green Team Helps Companies Make Great Hiring Decisions

One of our goals at BusinessEarth is to prove that socially and environmentally responsible business is possible and profitable. When we find a company that embodies these principles, we highlight their achievements and challenges so you can apply their lessons to your business. BusinessEarth invested in HireBetter in early 2011, and with it has shown how a unique company structure allows them to deliver more value to their clients while enriching their employees’ lives.

From the very beginning, HireBetter was a unique company.  Jonathan Davis, the company’s founder, set out to create an organization that focused only on things that added value.  By eschewing many “normal” business ideas and honing down on what truly matters, HireBetter has been delivering top-notch service to its clients while enriching the lives of its stakeholders since 2004.  Their business model is rewarding to their employees, good for the environment, and most importantly, highly effective.

About HireBetter

HireBetter is, at its core, a recruitment process outsourcing – or RPO firm.  HireBetter works with fast growing, middle market companies to determine how their workforce can be improved, and it helps clients promote, recruit and hire the A-players that they need (and rave about) to grow to the “next level.”

 

“Always add value. Always.”

When they started, Jonathan took a holistic look at what the business would and wouldn’t need to be successful.  He knew that HireBetter’s workforce needed to be dependable, flexible, and creative.  He also realized that in order to serve it’s clients needs across the U.S. and at all hours of the day, HireBetter would benefit from a team that was geographically dispersed across the country.

Jonathan also noticed a few things that HireBetter didn’t need.  Many companies would, without even considering the alternatives, build their business around a centralized office with conventional hours.  But HireBetter concluded that their clients didn’t really get any value out of that.  The Internet made it possible for most of the work to be done from just about anywhere.  So instead using an outdated, expensive, and inefficient model, he structured the company so that telecommuters could do the majority of the day-to-day client service.

 

The work at home mom phenomenon

In order to staff this unique company, HireBetter needed a different kind of workforce.  They found that “work at home moms” (WAHMs) had just the right make-up and skillset that HireBetter desired.  Moms are naturally creative, organized, and dependable, which is just what the young company needed.  And HireBetter’s virtual model was perfect for moms who may need to work unconventional hours to continue to be “on-call” for their families.

The WAHM phenomenon has allowed thousands of women who would have otherwise been left out of the workforce to enjoy real, meaningful employment while still being available for their families.  HireBetter’s expertise is based on making sure that top talent is used in the most productive way, and WAHMs possess a wealth of talent that is too amazing to let idle away.

 

No success at work is worth failure at home*

In order to make a great working environment for WAHMs, HireBetter places work-life balance as a top priority.  Family always comes before work, period.  HireBetter has figured out that placing family first actually results in outstanding service for its clients.  In fact, because HireBetter’s employees know that they have the company’s support, they are happier, more creative, and more productive…and clients rave about its service.  A company that truly cares creates value for its employees, its clients, and itself.

 

Telecommuting is lean, green, and it works!

By employing a workforce centered on telecommuting, HireBetter saves time, money, and the environment.  Employees spend the thousands of hours that would have otherwise been wasted in traffic, serving clients and their families.  Traditional commuting is also expensive and, often, very harmful to the environment.  By not needing an office big enough to house all of their employees, HireBetter also saves money (and carbon) in facilities costs; savings which it passes along to clients.

Though HireBetter’s management team meets in person and will travel to work with clients, most of the employees work exclusively out of their homes.  In order to keep everyone in touch, the team has group phone calls, shares pictures and stories via a team intranet, and stays in close contact with each other by instant messaging every day.  Many of HireBetter’s employees have never even met in person, but the collaborative nature of the company and the work has created a very tight-knit group.

 

How values add value

Today, with BusinessEarth’s Founder, Kurt Wilkin, serving as its Managing Partner, HireBetter enables work at home moms to use their unique professional skills and situations, while their clients get to reap the benefits.  The company’s low-overhead, highly flexible model allows them to deliver top-notch service to every client in a cost-effective way.  While minimizing wasted resources and maximizing work-life balance, they have and continue to help companies around the country hire better.

If you’re interested in getting a better talent management strategy, or you just want to learn more about the company, contact HireBetter.


*This is the mantra of Maxwell, Locke, & Ritter, an Austin-based accounting firm.

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