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.

Come by often to read the latest news, subscribe to our blog via email or RSS reader. Even better, join the conversation and share your ideas on how business can be a force for good in your community and environment.

Does Your Company Really Need a CSR Program?

Oct 1, 2010   //   by Melinda Owens   //   Company Culture, Terminology, Training & Education  //  1 Comment

Unless your company is in the Fortune 500, is a Wal-Mart supplier or vendor or boasts forward-thinking leadership, it probably doesn’t have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. But should it?

How Large Companies Profit Responsibly

Many public companies have initiated CSR programs, mostly due to global, investor, and societal pressures. These large companies dedicated vast resources to weave environmental and social impact into their corporate strategies and are now integrating them into their daily activities.

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LOHAS: What It Is and Why It Matters to You

Aug 5, 2010   //   by Melinda Owens   //   Marketing & Communication, Terminology  //  2 Comments

LOHAS - Lifestyles of Health and SustainabilityAre you a LOHAS? You may have heard the term before, but you probably have trouble nailing it down. But if you run a business in the 21st century, you can’t afford to miss this important and growing demographic.

LOHAS, Defined

LOHAS stands for “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.” Companies use this label to describe a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice. Widely recognized in North America, Europe, Australia, and South East Asia, the LOHAS market segment consists of six main areas:

  1. Personal and Health
  2. Natural Lifestyles
  3. Green Building
  4. Alternative Transportation
  5. Eco-Tourism
  6. Alternative Energy

How to Think Like a LOHASian

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Social Capital: How to Understand and Grow Yours

Jun 9, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Terminology  //  2 Comments

How to find and grow social capital for your companyLabels clarify, organize and structure information in a coherent way. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. So why do labels often get in the way of comprehension and action?

Social capital is a classic example of a clear, intuitive idea that is muddled by a confusing label.  Once you grasp the concept, you can measure and grow social capital at your company.

Trust: The Foundation of Social Capital

Social capital is the idea that social relations have productive benefits. Sound a lot like trust? We think so. Most people agree that trust has a financial impact on their company’s long-term profitability. So why does social capital get left out of the equation?

It’s easy to see “capital” in the form of a tool or factory. You invest money in a tangible good in order to make more money. While concrete investments, like widgets, are easy to count and quantify, that doesn’t lessen the value of intangible forms of capital. Like plant, property or equipment, social capital is essential to growing your wealth.

Integrating Social Capital in Your Business

Sustainable business practices offer one of the most efficient frameworks to grow social capital. As a socially and environmentally responsible business, you’ll find more opportunities to focus on the three key activities behind social capital: bonding, bridging and linking:

  • Bonding – Strengthen your “strong ties”
    • Strengthen your strong ties by nurturing a company culture based on openness, trust and transparency. For example, empower employees to develop the framework for a sustainability strategy in collaborative, cross-functional teams. Recognize their work and act on their suggestions
  • Bridging – Connect your “weak ties”
    • Introduce people and ideas outside of your company, industry and specialty. Connecting “weak ties” often results in the cross-pollination of ideas and a spring well of innovation. For example, create regular sessions where experts from diverse fields speak to your employees. Encourage your employees to return the favor and speak to others about their work.
  • Linking – Leverage partnerships for greater change.
    • Join forces with institutions and organizations that have a mutual interest in the success of your social and environmental initiatives. You’ll likely find that you can be more effective together than apart. For example, Patagonia, a leader in environmental stewardship, is helping Walmart green its supply chain.

Build it Before you Need It

You can’t buy social capital when you need it most. It takes time to grow and dedication to nurture. But taking the first steps toward sustainability, from a recycling initiative to volunteer days for employees, you’ll start building the kind of social capital that benefits all parties.

Can you think of any other areas where you could develop social capital? Where have you seen it used most effectively? Have you seen any cases of its failure?

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