Sustainability at work is not just a nice-to-have

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6 min read

In order to save resources and protect the environment, companies must act sustainable in their day-to-day work. Even small changes and behaviors can already help with the environmental footprint.   

Tl;dr: CSR is an important part of image-building but also the company culture. Companies therefore need to strengthen their CSR activities and see where they can make a difference within their company but also their environment. Even small steps can go a long way. 

Content:

1. What's behind CSR?

2. What can CSR offer? 

3. 8 simple measures for a sustainable company

In recent years, what companies stand for and what they do to care for their employees, customers but also the environment has become more important both for customers as well as employees and even investors. But what does this mean exactly? 

What's behind csr?  

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CSR is short for Corporate Social Responsibility and describes a combination of adhering to set rules and regulations (e.g. sustainability or human rights protection) and voluntary measures to act sustainable and socially conscious.

The amount of measures is defined by different variables. For example, certain industries demand a lot more standards and regulations than others (e.g. production, healthcare or finances). 

Additionally, the image of a company can impact its CSR activities since a brand that's generally associated with nature needs to act accordingly and sustainable to be believable. 

Customers as well as employees can impact CSR activities as well, since they usually choose products, services and employers based on similar values which can be exemplified by CSR measures. 

Last but not least, the company culture has a huge impact on CSR. If employees, management, partners and other stakeholders are motivated to create a more diverse, sustainable and socially just company, CSR activities can evolve organically without any external need. 

What can csr offer? 

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CSR helps to improve a company's image and gain respect and awareness. Depending on the industry and products as well as services, CSR can even create new market opportunities. By offering new, more sustainable products, for example, a company can reach a wider audience and create more loyalty.

According to a study by rothmund insights, 42 % of all customers would forego convenience and pay more for sustainable products.  

Additionally, companies can become more attractive as an employer. According to a global study by HP (PDF download), 61 % of employees believe that sustainability is mandatory for a modern company.

further advantages: 

  • Employees are more loyal if they can identify with a company's values and actions.
  • Potential employees are looking actively for companies who share their values.  
  • Sustainability can decrease expenses.  
  • A focus on CSR can help create more transparency for supply chains and other processes (e.g. waste management, energy consumption, etc.)  
  • CSR-collaborations can help strengthen communities and partnerships

The healthiest way to create a company with strong CSR activities is to nurture a culture that lets employees (and customers) be part of CSR. That way, measures are aligned with what's important to employees and customers which in the end will strengthen loyalty but also create a company that is trustworthy and has an image that fits its actions. 

As a first step, even small things that can be implemented easily can create a more sustainable environment.  

8 simple measures for a sustainable company

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  1. Offering remote work

Commuters are responsible for a large share of road-related CO2 emissions. Companies can reduce these emissions by offering flexible forms of work such as the home office.

  1. Opt for sustainable means of transport

If business trips are necessary, companies can favor the most environmentally friendly means of transportation. For short distances, for example, company bicycles can be used. For longer distances, incentives can be offered for public transportation.

If car travel is unavoidable, companies can expand their fleets to include hybrid or electric cars. These consume significantly less fuel and emit fewer pollutants, which protects the environment and reduces fuel costs.

  1. Use green electricity

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity generation has a huge share of greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce the environmental footprint, companies can switch to renewable electricity sources, for example from wind or hydroelectric power, bio gas or solar power.

Switching electricity providers is usually not a big hassle. Companies that rely on green electricity can reduce their CO2 consumption by up to 80 % and also save money.

  1. use Energy-saving light bulbs

In addition to the procurement of electricity, companies can also invest in sustainable light sources in their offices. For example, conventional light bulbs can be replaced by LED lighting fixtures, which save energy thanks to their long service life and high luminous efficacy.

  1. Save paper: "Think before you print"

In many places, paper can be easily replaced with the digitalization of documents, which also enables more flexible workplaces such as home office. Emails replace letters and shared documents replace several printouts for editing purposes. Digital signatures can even digitalize and speed up contractual processes with employees, customers, partners and service providers. As is often the case, sustainable solutions also optimize processes and save costs.

If there is no way around print outs, there are plenty ways to use recycled paper, energy-efficient printers and sustainable inks.

  1. Reduce energy consumption of IT-hardware and kitchen appliances

Modern appliances usually save time and energy. This applies to kitchen appliances such as refrigerators or coffee machines, but also to servers and end devices such as computers or smartphones. When selecting equipment, companies can always look for high energy-saving classes.

If equipment needs to be replaced due to compliance or when the product gguarantee has run out, it can be reused by selling it for a small fee to employees or donate it. These measures also promote environmental awareness among employees.

In addition, employees can put their appliances into energy-saving mode during their lunch break, for example, and turn them off overnight (which, of course, does not apply to the refrigerator). When doing so, they must make sure to disconnect the devices completely from the mains, as they can consume electricity even when switched off. A power strip with an on/off switch can help with this.

  1. Design sustainable offices

The offices themselves can also be designed sustainably. For example, water dispensers can be used to reduce the number of plastic bottles ordered. It also makes sense to have a waste separation system to dispose of waste properly.

In addition, the premises can be transformed into "green offices" by adding plants, for example. Plants are not only an aesthetic accessory, but also improve the indoor climate and the well-being of employees.

  1. Check business partners for sustainability

Business relationships are an integral part of the general social and environmental footprint of a company. Even companies that don't produce can make a change when it comes to working with service providers (caterers, merch shops), landlords or suppliers.

It makes sense to consider ethical (corruption and integrity), social (working conditions) and ecological (emissions and resource consumption) criteria. This can ensure that third-party companies also pay attention to their own ecological footprint.

DIGITALL takes its social responsibility seriously which is why we take many different measures to ensure that our employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders are cared for. Additionally, we continuously work on more sustainable options and processes to better our ecological footprint because CSR is part of our culture. 

Our DIGITALL culture

by Milos Kuhn

Milos Kuhn is a working student in the DIGITALL marketing team. He is studying for a master's degree in media management at Stuttgart Media University.

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