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To avoid all these hassles, corporates should take the lead. They should ensure that the environment is not harmed in any way and people are treated with respect and dignity without exploiting the people or the environment in any unfair way. Such initiatives get publicity too and this has a positive impact on the company's business interests. Therefore, technology has been another driving factor that induces companies to take the right steps to preserve and protect the environment and the people who depend on it.
Steps that should be taken by the company
Companies should have a clear strategy of how they are going to address their issues and this should be decided after taking into account its impact on the environment as well as its business interests. Recent years has seen more importance being given to shareholders and so company executives do everything possible to increase the returns for the shareholders. However, this can impact the environment and the people to a significant extent.
Conflict of Interest
This is a conflicting issue for companies because there is a direct clash between its business interests and corporate social responsibility. Emergencies and problems increase opportunities for a company. For example, when HIV cases increase, the company manufacturing the cure for it will benefit. If the society insists that the company should take all possible steps to fight against HIV, then it conflicts with their business interests. This is the reason why many companies try to keep away from such issues. They make contributions towards areas that do not affect their business in any way. "Calls for broader corporate responsibility, therefore, constitute an effort to surmount the presupposition that such corporate action is illicit. With social misery and the imperative of corporate involvement, on the one hand, and the skeptical economic rationale, on the other, attempts to mobilize corporate social initiatives reach an intense pitch" ( Margolis and Walsh, 2003).
The management of the company has a difficult task at hand because it has to strike a balance between its business interests and its corporate social initiatives and ensure that they do not clash. Though some executives argue that it is the responsibility of the Government to end problems like poverty, they are nevertheless forced to take actions due to the constant monitoring of their activities by social activist groups and the technology and media that propagate information to the world.
Some of the major factors that have a bearing on the company's social initiatives are the nature of the firm, the industry in which it operates and its direct impact on the environment and its people. If the company has created a problem, then it has an obligation to clear it up effectively and as quickly as possible. In such a case, it will have a larger role to play. Such a company should also have the right amount of resources to perform the clean-up. In the case of a small company that has limited resources, it will not be able to do a good job. Such a situation becomes more complex. The company has done what best it can, but unfortunately, its best is not enough. The company can be absolved to a certain extent because it has put forth its best efforts, but the issue on hand still remains. "Chevron Texaco may have limited firm-specific capability to provide what Nigerian communities demand of it, but the integral presence of the company in Escravos, Nigeria and the benefits the company derives from its oil extraction facilities, even if those benefits are the result of explicit legal contracts, may obligate or at least license the firm to do more to redress societal problems there." (Moore 2002 as cited in Margolis and Walsh, 2003). This is a dicey issue and one possible solution is the intervention of the Government. The company can provide all resources that it possibly can to help the problem and the Government should also come up with some of its own resources to make up for the remaining. Such a collaboration can help to eradicate the problem to a large extent.
Any policy that is outlined by the board should take into account all these complex factors. Firstly, the dependence of the organization on the environment should be ascertained. Based on this information, the company should come with an action plan that will have little to no impact on the environment. The action plan should focus more towards eco-efficiency and should cover various aspects such as increasing the output of the business with lesser resources from the environment, eliminating water and air pollution, finding safer ways to dispose waste and exploring ways and means to boost the sustainability of the environment.
For example, if a patch of forest has to be cleared to make way for an organization to establish its office, then it should consider choosing a different part of the city or even better consider the option of allowing a good part of its employees to work from home. By doing so, the carbon footprint of the company on the environment is reduced because people have to travel less and this means fewer gas emissions. Also, the forest can continue to make its contribution to the climate and ecology of the region while the company has its operations in a different part of the city or country. Such alternate options that can reduce environmental degradation should be explored and included in the action plan.
Use of Information Systems
The second step is to implement the policies undertaken by the company with regard to environmental preservation. The company should consider using many different kinds of systems that can help to reduce its impact on the environment. One such system is called the Environment Management System (EMS). (Melville, 2010). This system can start with changing the beliefs and mindset of the employees and management of the organization to turn their focus and attention on how the environment is affected by the actions of the company and its employees and in turn, how this can affect everyone in the region or country. So, through this system the company should bring about an organizational change that will work unitedly towards a common objective -- environmental sustainability.
This system can be an important action that a company can take to preserve the environment. By doing so, every employee is conscious of not only what the company does to the environment, but also their role in environmental degradation. This will help to reduce the carbon footprint of every individual and it can be expected that they will adopt greener and more environment-friendly actions.
Co-evolution and co-existence
A company should try to explore the possibilities of peaceful co-evolution and co-existence with its natural environment. A good example of such co-existence is the Ricelands Habitat Partnership between the rice industry and the environmental advocates of Northern California. It proved to be a win-win situation for the rice industry as well as those who felt that the industry was damaging the fragile ecosystem of the region. "Flooding rice fields in winter provided farmers with an environmentally friendly alternative for getting rid of post-harvest stubble. It also made the fields attractive to migrating waterfowl. This proved that rice production could serve both human and wildlife needs, making the RHP a good example of "natural capitalism" (Hawken, 1999 as cited in Livesey, Hartman, Stafford and Shearer, 2009, p.424). This collaboration led to sustainable farming in the region where winter waterfowl habitat and the fisheries were preserved for posterity. At the same time, the production of rice went up with the support of the local people and everyone benefited from this venture, including the environment of North California.
Besides these collaborative efforts, some companies have taken steps on their own to improve the health of the environment because they were able to realize how it can affect them in the future. "Deterioration of the natural environment poses risks and opportunities for business organizations. Some firms respond by adopting environmental management strategies. For example, Marks & Spencer committed to a five-year plan to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Rose 2008), and Google installed a solar power facility at its U.S. Headquarters." (Melville, 2010, p.3)
These steps have to be taken quickly because there is little time left. Exploding population and rapid deterioration of the environment have started alarm bells and so companies should act quickly to preserve whatever little is left for posterity.
In short, companies have a moral and social responsibility towards the environment and its people. So, the management should devise a strategy to act more responsibly and ensure that it shows more concern for the environment and people.
Melville, Nigel. (March 2010). Information Systems Innovation for Environmental Sustainability. MIS Quarterly. Vol 34(1). p1-21.
Livesey, Sharon; Hartman, Cathy; Stafford, Edwin; Shearer, Molly. (October 2009). Performing Sustainable Development through Eco-Collaboration. Journal of Business Communication. Vol 46(4). p423-454.
Bansal, Pratima. (March 2009). Corporate Social Responsibility: The Good, the…[continue]
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