Should businesses be doing more for the environment?

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A relatively new company, 1% For the Planet, have raised the environmental bar for all of us. Recognising a need for companies to up their game when it comes to social responsibility, their concept lies in businesses donating 1% of their profits every year to environmental causes.

With only 3% of philanthropic giving in the U.S going to environmental causes and only 3% of that coming from the business community, Corporate Social Responsibility has stagnated, with recycling bins and water policies now becoming old hat.

Research however suggests that we can’t become complacent when it comes to this issue, with Forbes finding that 65% of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment.

Whilst, as a whole, businesses have increased their philanthropic giving, (in 2002 only about a dozen Fortune 500 companies issued a CSR report, now you’d be hard-pushed to find one that doesn’t), environmental charities tend to fall by the wayside, in favor of more heart-wrenching people-centric ones. Coupled with this, customers have become more complacent regarding a company’s green initiative, worrying that in an attempt to attract those concerned about environmental issues, they’re simply paying lip service, and in fact doing the bare minimum.

Ian C MacMillan, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, agrees, stating that “for most companies CSR is PR”.  Eric Orts, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton, says the only way to counteract these opinions and possible truths, is a complete overhaul of the way we treat CSR. “CSR is an old-fashioned idea that needs to be updated. For companies to take CSR seriously, it has to be integrated into the DNA of the enterprise.”

Whilst giving 1% of profits away isn’t feasible for all company’s and could actually put employees on shaky ground, adjusting the way we attempt to help the environment doesn’t have to be costly, with Ikea announcing their People and Planet Initiative, which calls for its entire supply chain to be 100% sustainable by 2020, even as the company aims to double sales by the same year.

Statistics suggest Ikea might just be successful, with the average customer willing to drive an extra 11 minutes to buy a product which supports a cause.