What does corporate social responsibility (CSR) mean, and do you have a responsibility to care about it? While definitions vary, the concept really means taking the time to evaluate your organization's decisions. CSR expert Mallen Baker says it's about "how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society."
Baker believes that social responsibility can be separated into two basic categories, internal and external:
1. Internal - Does management promote corporate values and a culture of honesty and integrity?
2. External - How do company decisions impact both society and the environment?
Your customers, investors, and stakeholders care about what your company does. Your business and customer service records affect how others regard your company, but your company's behavior matters, too. Being globally and environmentally sensitive is a key factor in brand equity and reputation.
Social Responsibility and Travel
Travel has a big impact on your company's bottom line. Experts estimate that each dollar spent on business travel results in 20 dollars in return, meaning it has an ROI of around 20:1. Travel also has a large impact on the economy and the environment. The following suggestions are some ways you can ensure your travel is eco-friendly:
1. Purchase Carbon Offsets
You can reserve fuel-efficient cars and have groups share executive ground transportation whenever possible, but your travel will still have a negative effect on the environment. If you can't reduce your carbon footprint due to an increased need for travel, plan to reduce the average footprint per mile instead. Or, you can purchase carbon offsets and virtually erase your travel pollution. Ask your preferred travel companies if they offer this option.
2. Travel By Rail
There's a lot to love about travel by rail, and it's a wise option if your executives have the time to take a train. Because a number of people can be transported at once, trains can significantly reduce the total carbon emissions for each journey. Also, since there's no security required before most trips and many trains offer both outlets and Wi-Fi, it can also help traveler productivity. But rail travel isn't always possible, since it can be too slow for long or multi-state journeys.
3. Interview Travel Companies Carefully
It's been said that people are only as good as those they do business with. Your company should screen companies carefully, to ensure that they have the same sense of corporate social responsibility as you do. Are their Chauffeurs independent contractors, or are they full time? Full-time employees often receive full-time wages and benefits, and they have been more carefully screened for eligibility to work. Not every sedan service screens their Chauffeurs and brings them on as full-time employees.
Finally, it's wise to just ask your hotel, air travel, and car service vendors about their efforts to be eco-friendly. Have they made any efforts to reduce their carbon footprint as a company? Have they signed on with any third-party organizations to improve their sustainability? Ask these questions, and you'll ensure your network is as committed to making a better world through business as you are.