With more consumers preoccupied by the sourcing and social/environmental impact of the goods and services they consume, a growing number of businesses are integrating the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their activities.
By Claudie Eustache
With more consumers preoccupied by the sourcing and social/environmental impact of the goods and services they consume, a growing number of businesses are integrating the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their activities. Businesses from all industries are going beyond profitability and tackling issues such as the conception cycle of their products, supporting their employee or the use of public transit.
This company distinguished itself by being part of a coalition of businesses who petitioned the American government to remain part of the Paris Climate Agreement and by committing themselves to continue its implementation. For example, Adidas participates in the UN’s Climate Neutral Now program. Besides this public commitment, the company also works to implement principles of sustainability in its activities and in the development of its products. Amongst other initiatives, it launched in 2017 its Parley line, a line of shoes and clothes made from plastic reclaimed from beaches and oceans.
The Aldo Group decided to start a serious path toward sustainability that involves most of its activities, going from its store lighting to the recycled content of its product packaging, or a discount on public transit for employees. This company has been measuring rigorously its carbon emissions since 2013 and is now certified carbon neutral for 2017 after the implementation of a vast GHG reduction program, which included its product deliveries and business trips. The Aldo Group compensates its emissions with the purchase of renewable energy certificates and carbon credits.
Cascades has been renowned for its leadership in the in the paper industry for decades now. This business worked to be innovative in both its production process by building a LEED Gold certified factory and by using a high proportion of FSC-certified materials in its products. Moreover, it was one of the first companies in Canada to offer products such as recycled paper toilet paper. A redistribution scheme also allows employees at all levels of the company to receive performance-based bonuses.
Hardware store company Rona wanted to separate itself from its competition by adopting a rigorous evaluation of the life cycle of the different products sold in their stores. A particular attention was given to the products sold under their private brand ECO for which the company tried to incorporate recycled materials or ones with a lower environmental impact. The entire life cycle of these products is taken into account, including provisions for a better management of their end of life with in-store recycling. Local stores are also encouraged to support initiatives such as tree planting with the David Suzuki Foundation and the hiring of workers with disabilities.
Amongst all the brands listed before, NIKE would certainly be the company with the most edgy CSR strategy. Along with the implementation of various initiatives for a better life-cycle management of its products (including a used shoe recycling program), NIKE recently took a strong public stance by hiring Colin Kaepernick, a football player who was at the center of a public discussion for his activism against police brutality, as the face of their most recent advertising campaign. Despite a backlash from some people, this choice was a calculated risk since online sales have grown noticeably in the following months. This initiative and its following reception demonstrate how this seemingly risky corporate public positioning was actually in line with its targeted clientele’s values.