There is a global sustainability shift underway and some of its biggest champions are large corporations.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is much more than just a popular business buzzword – the fact is, the term is beginning to encapsulate the new attitude companies and corporations are showing toward both the environment and the citizens of the world.
Defined as a long-term business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to all stakeholders, CSR is creating a shift in global awareness.
Depending on the sector or industry and specific corporate goals, corporate social responsibility is uniquely tailored to address various topics, including human rights, corporate governance, health and safety, environmental effects, working conditions and contribution to economic development. While aiming to cover a broad range of topics, the fundamental goal of corporate social responsibility is singular: drive change toward sustainability.
What’s important to note is that a commitment to sustainability has been proven to benefit the bottom line of businesses. A 2015 study released by London-based Kenexa High Performance Institute found organizations that had a genuine commitment to CSR outperformed those that did not. Surveyors found that CSR-committed corporations had an average return on assets (profitability relative to total assets) 19 times higher than their less conscientious counterparts.
Additionally, the study showed that CSR-oriented companies had a higher level of employee engagement and provided a better standard of customer service and customer engagement.
Promoting and increasing CSR levels is also the goal of a number of governments around the world, including Canada. Last year, the federal government of Canada began implementing its newly amended CSR mandate. The enhanced strategy, “clearly demonstrates the Government of Canada’s expectation that Canadian companies will promote Canadian values and operate abroad with the highest ethical standards.”
The strategy also outlines the government’s plans to foster and grow domestic socially responsible and sustainable initiatives. As a result, numerous Canadian businesses have implemented CSR programs of their own.
Tim Hortons is one of those companies. As part of its green building focus, the company requires its Canadian millwork suppliers to use only wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in Canadian restaurants. Also, by expanding recycling and waste-diversion programs at its distribution centers, Tim Hortons currently diverts 80 percent of its waste from landfills.
“Our guests, Restaurant Owners, and our corporate team are dedicated to making a true difference for individuals, our communities and the planet,” noted Tim Hortons’ President, Elías Díaz Sesé.
Apotex is another Canadian company prioritizing corporate social responsibility. This year as part of Earth Week festivities, Apotex employees partnered with the city of Brantford and other companies to facilitate the Brant Tree Coalition Tree Plant 2016. Apotex and others helped the city plant 10,000 trees and shrubs as part of the sustainable environment initiative.
Apotex also has a long-term partnership with the United Way and is recognized as a top pharmaceutical company in Canada for total corporate donations, which top $1 million.
Adopting a robust social responsibility agenda also happens to be crucial for today’s companies when attracting new and vibrant talent. Employees, especially millennials, want to work for a company that gives back. To lend weight to that argument, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that when looking for work, millennials look beyond the job and benefits to also consider the corporate citizenship and values of the larger organization. Fifty-nine percent of millennial respondents reported that they deliberately seek out employers whose corporate responsibility reflects their own values.