How to tend not take: corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is now a vital part of any business, but can your company afford to give $4 million a week to good causes like Target does? Most likely the answer is no, but the good news is that you don’t have to!
By supporting any good cause in your community, you provide important factors that not only pay dividends to your business but also deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. In other words corporate conscience or corporate social responsibility drives change towards sustainability.
What is corporate conscience?
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about business practices involving initiatives that will benefit society. CSR can encompass a wide variety of tactics, from giving away a portion of a company’s proceeds to charity, to implementing “greener” business operations.
Some broad categories of social responsibility that many of today’s businesses are practicing include:
Environmental efforts: One primary focus of corporate social responsibility is the environment. Businesses, regardless of size have a large carbon footprint. Any steps they can take to reduce those footprints are considered both good for the company and society as a whole
Philanthropy: Businesses also practice social responsibility by donating to national and local charities. Businesses have a lot of resources that can benefit charities and local community programs
Ethical labor practices: By treating employees fairly and ethically, companies can also demonstrate their corporate social responsibility. This is especially true of businesses that operate in international locations with labor laws that differ from those in our country
Volunteering: Attending volunteer events says a lot about a company’s sincerity. By doing good deeds without expecting anything in return, companies are able to express their concern for specific issues and support for certain organisations
Why have a corporate conscience? Because it’s just good business!
Being a good corporate citizen is voluntary, and presumably a cost to businesses, so why would any corporation choose CSR? The answer is a fairly simple one: It’s good business.
From Google to Nike, some of the world’s largest and most profitable corporations have integrated measures to promote good corporate citizenship into their business models. The business case for CSR is that your company will have reduced operating costs; you will have employees who are proud to work for you and clients who are proud to be associated with you. The financial return of either is just good business.
Image source: http://www.weekendnotes.com/bees-needs-at-sydney-wildlife-world/
Extraordinary lessons from bees to inform corporate social responsibility
The most important lessons that corporates could learn from the beehive are that the workforce shares the toils of the labour – in the bees’ case the honey they produce to feed themselves over the winter. Those that don’t contribute – the workshy male drones – are kicked out of the hive at the end of summer. And the queen bee, despite her regal title, far from being a ruler of the bee colony is a slave to her workers, being fed by them when they want her to lay thousands of eggs, and starved when they don’t – all for the good of the whole colony.
Bees have a lot to teach us and the life of the healthy hive is a rich metaphor for the life of a healthy, sustainable building or any community of people working together. There needs to be good morale for it to work, everyone has their purpose and works together to achieve the goal of the whole, working efficiently in using resources and energy, and sharing the surplus.
Learning about the workings of a hive seems like the perfect metaphor for the kind of collaborative values we aim to encourage.
Here is our very first foray into investing in bees. We put a bee hive in our back yard!
Here’s our happy bees settling in …
So what do bees have to do with our corporate social responsibility?
At the Havencab Group we are, and intend to remain, a healthy and growing organisation, and we believe it is our duty to nurture our symbiotic relationship between community and business.
So, we make it a priority to give back to community and social support organisations by providing services and corporate sponsorship. Interestingly, we are currently trialling what we think is a novel way to give to our clients. We are investing in bees!
Everyone knows that honey has been used by humans for centuries, for sweetening foods to making alcoholic beverages and curing ailments. Pharaohs were buried with it, Greeks and Romans revered it for its culinary and medicinal properties. And today it as still as useful in the medicine cabinet, as the kitchen, to treat colds, hay fever, splinters and, potentially, hospital superbugs.
But has honey ever been used to bring people together and raise awareness about the plight of the bees whose industriousness transforms nectar from flowers into the “food of the gods”?
We are looking at ways to create a business model within our building communities where honey is not just a commodity but a way to bring communities together and to help bees thrive.
There are already model initiatives in place to bring bees and business closer. The City of London festival has provided beehives and training to eight city institutions including a large insurance company on the Lloyds building and an investment bank opposite St Paul’s, the Golden Company in east London, which teaches business skills to innercity young people by marketing and selling bee-related products, has hives hosted on the roof of Nomura bank, and in Copenhagen, Bybi, is teaching the city’s homeless people to become beekeepers for hives on company roofs. The possibilities for doing something good are endless.
For those of you who love their music … who know bees make music – very interesting!