Companies should be interested in the future. After all, they are going to spend every day doing business there.

CSR

A strong investment in the future is the creation and adherence to a corporate social responsibility platform. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of self-regulation that is integrated into a business model.

The facility manager’s role in all this is pivotal. From a facility management perspective, the key ingredient in supporting a CSR program revolves around the environment and sustainability. How a company manages its resources depends a lot on how the facility is run. Facility managers have one of the largest impacts on the environment as it relates to the business world.

They control water usage, energy consumption, waste management and diversion. These practices in themselves can be looked at as a way to invest in the future — saving until tomorrow what isn’t used today. Tomorrows will go on indefinitely; natural resources won’t.

The company

CSR will serve as a foundation for ongoing business practices that will create credibility with its stakeholders and help to ensure long-term sustained success. Creating a respected brand based on CSR is one of many benefits that can be experienced by a company on this path.

Implementing sustainable actions leads to resource conservation. It minimizes the impact of volatility in the price of energy, fuels and production materials. It provides the company with a longer-term approach to value generation, potentially delivering more resilient, less risky results and the ability to try new things.

Companies with strong CSR programs have effectively thrown a gauntlet down within their industries; competitors cannot avoid being compared against them and the ways of doing and measuring business in an ethical and sustainable manner.

The employees

A company having a reputation as socially and sustainably responsible has the opportunity of recruiting and hiring some of the top talent in their industry. In a survey from Net Impact, it was reported that 53 percent of workers want a job where they can make a positive impact and 35 percent of those interviewed would take a pay cut to join a company committed to CSR.

In the same vein, leaders rising in business today want more than just a good salary. They are expecting more relevance in their work. They are expected to run a company for profit, but they want to go beyond that. They want to be successful while having an impact in society that is sustainable and makes a true difference.

Companies that recognize this, that have invested in a socially responsible path, have the leverage in this scenario. They offer increased opportunities for their employees to engage in societal issues, while minimizing the possibility of their best employees leaving the organization to find one that meets with their expectations.

Customers

One CSR investment in the future that is extremely pertinent to a company’s success revolves around their customers. Having such a program builds trust and a brand that inspires loyalty. It creates recognition of responsible activities and a reputation for “doing good.” In today’s business world, more and more companies, both large and small, have integrated CSR as part of their daily business routines and have added a sustainability section to their annual reports.

According to a recent Nielsen survey, 55 percent of online consumers around the world surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. CSR is now more of a direct corporate response to consumers’ ever-growing demands for transparency.

On the flip side, consumers are showing their disdain and staying away from companies that ignore social responsibility and develop unethical reputations. Companies need to care about social responsibility because customers do.

Stakeholders

No company exists on its own. In order to achieve meaningful sustainability improvements, companies must extend their influence to their wider ecosystem of investors, suppliers and customers. Sustainability serves as the ultimate exercise in total collaboration.

The emphasis of education is vital in the effort to spread a responsible and sustainably profitable approach to business. Giving back to society brings benefits that far exceed any costs, whether it’s in terms of employee morale, or strengthening the brand name.

The quality of a company’s staff, or brand loyalty from customers, directly affect its monetary worth. It is also widely accepted that a narrow view of future value can lead to catastrophic costs to a business. Depending on its motivation, a company can win or lose from more than just its sales.

The facility manager

Of course, the facility manager’s role in all this is pivotal. Facility mangers hold sway over most of the consumption and disposal of resources in the workplace. Energy efficiency, water conservation, the use of rapidly renewable resources or renewable energy and life cycle assessments of materials all play a part in the sustainability aspect of CSR. Facility professionals are extremely adept at cost avoidance, and well-run facilities translate to corporate savings that trickles down as a benefit to all stakeholders.

The environmental health and safety programs that are tied to sustainability will lead to employee attraction and retention. Those working in a clean, healthy environment will have higher morale and motivation, which enables more productivity and better quality work. The reputation of such a program will invite prospective new hires to join the organization. If a facility manger doesn’t make the final decisions on the introduction or implementation of a CSR program, he or she can still influence senior management.

Through well-designed sustainability efforts with quantitative proof of success, and with a consistent, persistent approach, a facility manager may be able to provide just enough of an impetus to get the ball rolling. This leads to another opportunity for an organization to invest in the future; that is, supporting continuing education for facility managers. Facility professionals perform myriad functions when maintaining and managing sustainability/CSR programs. Their holistic view of operations allows them to integrate practices throughout the company. They provide support while being able to enhance and improve on sustainable practices and endeavors.

May the path continue on...

The impact of an organization’s activities on such a wide range of stakeholders may come as a pleasant revelation. While profit may be the end goal for any business, responsible businesses have also managed to attract more investors, reduce their risks and address stakeholder concerns. From employees to customers, from investors to service providers, there are tangible benefits to be had by all.

Consumers appreciate the quality of products and services provided by responsible companies; investors and shareholders truly enjoy the bottom line results delivered. Employees take pride in the efforts their company is making. All in all, more interest is being shown in businesses demonstrating genuine corporate social responsibility. The key is not to treat CSR as a special project.

Applying CSR should just be redefining aspects of what is already being done. It doesn’t need to be exotic or costly; it just needs to become business as usual, with new parameters. If companies don’t continually build their reputation and credibility to provide what the public expects, they run the danger of becoming irrelevant and just fading away. A lack of followers will drive that result, leading to a dismal future.

Bill ConleyBill Conley , CFM, SFP, FMP, LEED AP
IFMA Fellow, facility manager at Yamaha Motor Corp. in Cypress, California, USA

This extract has been taken from the International Facility Management Association's FMJ magazine. Read the full article.

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