“Social responsibility means that businesses, in addition to maximizing shareholder value, must act in a manner that benefits society.” (Ganti, 2019)
It can be a difficult task for managers to determine what will be perceived as social responsibility in the corporate world. There are a couple of different models used, the shareholder and stakeholder model. The shareholder model is designed for profit maximization, whereas the stakeholder model is designed for long-term survival as well as satisfying the interests of multiple corporate stakeholders. (Williams, 2019)
Sustainability is where the needs of both the present and future meet without comprise on either side.; the point where the resources we use match the earth’s ability to regenerate its future supply, thus making our systems remain balanced indefinitely. However, if resources used exceed this capacity, then current demand is being met by borrowing from the future, which will eventually lead to an inability to meet society’s needs. (DesJardine, 2015)
Sustainable development is when a company who uses resources, ensures that they are replaced or not consumed as quickly, that is not adequate time to reproduce enough to sustain the future.
An example is in the forestry industry, with the amount of demand in today’s society more and more forests are being depleted, clear cut at rapid rates. It can take a decade for a tree to grow large enough to be useful, so if new trees are not always being planted where the old ones are being cut, eventually they will all be gone before the new ones have time to grow into a full sized tree.
The forestry industry also plays a role in influencing a strict recycle and reuse program that will also cut down on the number of new trees that are being used.
A second example of sustainability in action would be the use of solar and wind energy. Using the earth’s natural resources in this manner is free (beside infrastructure) and cuts down on pollution drastically. It is environmentally friendly, lowers power bills and is completely sustainable.
The third example of sustainability in action are the ways individuals and offices can become more involved in sustainability daily. Firstly, by incorporating and encouraging recycling programs for paper, cardboard, cans and plastics. Secondly, using more efficient appliances, having less lights on, and using less water all help reduce the use of extra resources which in turn will put less pressure on the environment.
Sustainability Efforts within Companies
Although automotive companies are known to be one of the heaviest polluters, Ford Motor Company is changing its image with an environmental policy implemented years ago. Their statement reads; There is no more time for climate change debate, only action. We aspire to use recycled and renewable plastics in our vehicles, which is why our scientists are busy developing applications using soy, bamboo, agave fiber and algae. We’re also reducing the emissions from our vehicles, cutting waste to landfill and expanding our use of renewable energy. (Ford Motor Company, 2019) Ford uses sustainable fabrics and 80% of two of their most popular models are recyclable. They also focus on fuel efficiency, and the paint fumes used in their production plants are recycled as fuel. Ford owns the world’s largest green roof and is the only company to have won the EPA Energy Star Award twice in a row. (Erich Lawson, 2016)
Starbucks is another company who have made public statements regarding their sustainability efforts. Their statement is as follows; We share our customers’ commitment to the environment, and we believe in the importance of caring for our planet working with and encouraging others to do the same. As a company that relies on an agricultural product, it makes good business sense. As people living in the world, it is simply the right thing to do. (Starbucks, 2019) Starbucks embraces principles of environmental sustainability all around. They purchase Fair Trade Certified coffee, they have created what they call ‘green’ stores, which minimizes operating costs as well as environmental impact. Their cabinetry is made of 90% post-industrial materials, they adjusted temperatures for their air-conditioned stores from 72 degrees to 75 degrees and have low-flow water valves. (Erich Lawson, 2016)
These two companies’ similarities are that they both want to make a difference on our environment by incorporating sustainable practices into their everyday operations. They differ because the industries in which they are in are much different and the customer base is different.
Ford needs to focus on a much bigger issue of emissions pollution, they also create a much larger environmental footprint when it comes to the usage of material and resources in order to make their product. Starbucks should focus on their environmental impacts with continued reduce, re-use, recycle efforts as well as energy efficiency with their stores. I believe it is important for the success of both companies to continue to improve the efforts they are already making and taking initiative to do so.
In conclusion, I believe that implementing social responsibility and sustainability initiatives might be more complicated in an international business because the environmental and ethics governance may not be the same. Some countries may not be established enough to have the capabilities or resources to focus on environmental impact. Social responsibility is a self-regulation by the company itself and other country’s do not always have the same rules and responsibilities that are widely used throughout the United States, but it is certainly beneficial to all businesses to use these practices.