|9 Strategies to Help Create a More Socially and Environmentally Responsible Workplace|
Future generations looking back will consider this moment in time as either a turning point in history or a gross missed opportunity. Uncommon global economic turmoil combined with ever-worsening environmental crises further tests our values and commitment to moving our world forward and into a thriving global community.
Eighteenth century notions of inexhaustible resources which promoted irresponsible consumer and business behavior can no longer serve our collective purpose. Unsustainable production and consumption practices continue to increase disparity between the affluent and the underprivileged, deplete resources at an alarming rate, and further contribute to the unfair treatment of workers across the globe. Primordial ideas of self-preservation, self-realization, and self-interest have begun to give way to community building, global-realization, and humanity.
For business, there are two sides to social responsibility—internal and external. In general, internal social responsibility deals with equitable treatment of employees and shareholders while external social responsibility involves fair treatment of other vital stakeholders such as vendors, consumers, and the community at large. To succeed, employer-employee relationship must be one of mutual collaboration and respect. Quality employers provide positive working environments that motivate employee involvement. At the same time, effective employees leverage company resources to better promote both internal and external social responsibility. Some basic strategies to help create a more socially and environmentally responsible workplace include:
1) Fostering diversity: The modern workplace reflects the demographics of its community. Diversity brings a range of unique perspectives and skill sets that can lead to the development of superior products and services. Make a conscious effort to encourage diversity by including in your team true talent from various walks of life and cultural backgrounds.
2) Encouraging volunteerism: An increasing number of corporations are lending their skilled talent to community organizations in need of volunteerism. This strategy assists with not only attracting new talent but also providing an opportunity for existing employees to broaden their business perspectives. Establish programs that provide company principals, managers, and employees the option to participate in community volunteer activities without suffering pay losses.
3) Supporting transparency: Increased transparency within your organization can provide for a more trustworthy and productive working environment. Most employees want to contribute but often need reassurance from management. Transparency allows employees the opportunity to provide valuable feedback and fresh ideas to the organization.
4) Integrating charitable giving: A workplace can be more productive if employees are inspired to give. By establishing clear giving channels employees can feel more involved and connected with the organization and the community. If you're interested in helping the community, you can start small with simple activities such as canned food drives, pet adoption days, or participating in school fundraisers.
5) Optimizing energy usage: Set all computers and other office electronic devices to optimal energy-saving settings. Implement daily office procedures that include shutting down inactive computers, monitors, copiers, and printers. Upgrade to energy-efficient fixtures and bulbs.
6) Reducing paper usage: Switch to digitized documents, filing, and communication and avoid unnecessary paper usage such as excessive printing and copying. Whenever possible, try double-sided printing and copying to reduce your paper usage.
7) Recycling: Place recycling containers throughout your workplace to ensure recycling convenience for all employees. Opt for recyclable and recycled products including toner cartridges, paper, and packaging material.
8) Buying smart: Look for products and supplies made from environmentally friendly and recycled materials with minimal packaging. Whenever practicable, buy locally-made goods to reduce the energy that otherwise would be required for long distance transport.
9) Promoting eco-friendly commuting: Set up systems that make telecommuting possible. Reward carpoolers, cyclists, and public transit users for reducing the carbon footprint associated with their commute.