Trends in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Social & environmental impact increasingly factored into a company's overall value

A company’s worth is based not only on how much money they make, how many products they sell, or how many customers they reach, but also on their social and environmental impact. Recently, with the rise of global warming, plastic pollution, and other environmental dilemmas, more and more companies have been stepping up to take on more roles in responsibility for people and the planet.

corporate social responsibilityThis is embodied by corporate social responsibility (CSR), of which a major trend is sustainability and decreasing waste within a business. Consumers are choosing to support eco-friendly and sustainable companies more and more, and companies are trying to enact best practices.

Why CSR Matters

According to a report on modern sustainability, the movement started with the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the first Earth Day. After that, the first plastic recycling plant in the US opened in Pennsylvania in 1972, and was followed by more laws for sustainability in the following decades.

It’s clear that action needs to be taken to revive and maintain the health of our planet. While this effort is the responsibility of every person on Earth, it’s especially important that businesses own up to their share of efforts. While creating a CSR program specifically protecting the environment is important, it has now become crucial that big companies simply incorporate sustainable practices into their daily functions.

According to an article on CSR in today’s society by Ohio University, “it should become ingrained in the values and culture of a company, and positively affect the way the company does business. CSR should become inherent in the mission and message of an organization, and also hold a strong place in marketing and advertising.”

Recently, a report on greenhouse emissions in the last 20 years found that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse emissions, with one quarter of those companies responsible for over half of the pollution. The highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include:

  • ExxonMobil
  • Shell
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Peabody
  • Total
  • BHP Billiton

Additionally, key state-owned companies include:

  • Saudi Aramco
  • Gazprom
  • National Iranian Oil
  • Coal India
  • Pemex
  • CNPC (PetroChina)

Corporate Sustainability in Practice

Although these companies are contributing the most to global pollution, it is still imperative that all companies make an effort to keep the planet green. A few ways companies can go green right in their offices include creating a paperless plan, leveraging scanning technology, installing light sensors to conserve energy, and continuing to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Today, most companies have some sort of green initiative. The nonprofit organization Climate Counts put together a ranking of green companies, each company being marked out of a possible 100 points, with 100 being the best score possible. Some of the companies that scored the highest include:

  • Nike
  • Google
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Anheuser-Busch

Several companies, however ranked with a total of 0 to 1 point, including:

  • Burger King
  • Darden Restaurants (Owners of Red Lobster and Olive Garden)
  • Yum! Brands (Owners of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc)
  • Wendy’s

One way individuals can push for sustainability practices is to give more business to green companies, and less or none to non-sustainable ones. This way, environmentally harmful companies will either be pushed to succeed or will eventually fail. Shopping at local companies can have an even better impact on the environment.