Earth Day, CSR, and Environmentally Responsible Organizations
In this article, I want to briefly explore the history of Earth Day and its impact on environmental consciousness. From there, I’ll discuss the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Earth Day celebrations along with how organizations have embraced environmental responsibility as part of their business strategies — offering one example of a successful CSR program launched by a Perceptyx partner.
What Is Earth Day?
Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22 in the United States and on either April 22 or the spring equinox throughout the rest of the world. The purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness of the need to protect Earth's natural resources for future generations and to inspire action towards a cleaner environment.
A Brief History of Earth Day
The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, aiming to raise awareness of environmental concerns and promote environmental consciousness. The idea for Earth Day came from Senator Gaylord Nelson, who had been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States, particularly air and water pollution. Earth Day led to 20 million Americans protesting against environmental deterioration, resulting in the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the establishment of various environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act and the Clean Air Act. Earth Day went global in 1990, with 200 million people in 141 countries raising environmental concerns on the world stage. Today, over a billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year —— making their voices heard as climate change becomes increasingly apparent.
What has organizational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) got to do with Earth day?
Organizations recognize the importance of practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) due to its numerous advantages, including employee engagement, increased organizational performance, talent attraction, and improved reputation. Also referred to as “corporate conscience” or “corporate citizenship,” CSR encompasses various initiatives, such as environmental responsibility, ethical responsibility, legal responsibility, financial responsibility, and philanthropic responsibility.
A critical theme within CSR is environmental responsibility, which refers to the belief that organizations should behave in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Companies that prioritize CSR are more likely to have organized procedures for stakeholder engagement, a long-term market outlook or orientation, and better financial and stock market performance.
The Characteristics of Environmentally Responsible Organizations
Environmentally responsible organizations typically engage in a variety of practices that reflect their commitment to protecting the environment and reducing their environmental impact. Some of the key practices include:
- Reducing waste: Companies can decrease pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, single-use plastics, water consumption, and general waste by implementing eco-friendly policies and technologies, promoting resource efficiency, and encouraging sustainable practices among employees.
- Regulating energy consumption: By increasing reliance on renewable energy sources, utilizing sustainable resources, and incorporating recycled or partially recycled materials into their products and processes, organizations can significantly reduce their energy consumption and environmental footprint.
- Offsetting negative environmental impact: Companies can actively work to offset their environmental impact by engaging in activities such as planting trees, funding research, recycling, and donating to environmental causes. These initiatives help to counteract the negative effects of their operations on the environment.
- Distributing goods consciously: Organizations can choose distribution methods that have the least impact on emissions and pollution, such as utilizing low-emission transportation options, optimizing delivery routes, and working with eco-friendly suppliers and partners.
- Supply chain responsibility: By verifying that their vendors and suppliers prioritize making a positive environmental impact, organizations can ensure that their entire supply chain is working towards environmental responsibility and sustainability.
Research has shown that companies that are highly sustainable are more likely to have high stakeholder engagement, to be more long-term oriented, and to exhibit more measurement and disclosure of non-financial information. In addition, there is evidence that highly sustainable companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance.
Nestlé: An Environmentally Responsible Perceptyx Partner
One notable CSR program maintained by a company with which Perceptyx partners is Nestlé Switzerland's Nestlé Cares Cleanup. To uphold their company value of protecting the planet via environmentally-friendly practices, Nestlé organized a volunteer week event centered around corporate environmental responsibility. This initiative coincided with World Cleanup Day, giving their employees hands-on experience in protecting their local environment and supporting their communities. Over 100 employees participated across Switzerland over four days, involving six Nestlé sites. Thanks to this effort, Nestlé collected over 110 kilograms of trash.
Given the increasing awareness and need to reduce the impact we have on the climate, it is in an organization's best interest to embrace CSR behaviors, not only for moral reasons but also for the longevity of their organization. Organizations that are future-thinking recognize that CSR is not just socially good, but also financially and reputationally beneficial. For forward-thinking organizations, CSR has become an integral part of any successful business strategy.
How Perceptyx Can Help
Since CSR behaviors impact employee engagement, it is essential to consider surveying employees about this topic to better understand what drives engagement within your organization. By partnering with Perceptyx, you can build an employee listening and actioning strategy that captures the perceptions as well as the unique behaviors of your people — critical data-driven insights that will help you meet their needs wherever they choose to work. To learn more, speak to a member of the Perceptyx team or complete our free interactive listening maturity assessment.