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Example Of Conscientious Business

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Continuing with our theme this year of "green marketing" and "conscientious business practices" I wanted to show you a page that helps illustrate what we're talking about.


New Breed: a vital member of the community


is an example of a corporation that has a page on their site that brings attention to their community and volunteer involvement and where they donate funds or offer support.


It's a nice effort and important for them to show because it helps add to the overall credibility of the company, esp. for newcomers.


They didn't however, bring this information closer to the front of the site, as a value proposition. When you do this yourself, remember that it's important to discuss how your company differs from the competition early on, such as the intro content on the homepage. Link to a page that describes what you do and how you do it, such as this example.


Being a solid contributor to your world around you sends a very positive message to prospective customers, esp. those who want to do business with companies that are concerned about the environment and economical issues.

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It's a nice effort and important for them to show because it helps add to the overall credibility of the company, esp. for newcomers.


Sorry, Kim, but I can not get too thrilled about New Breed - or others of their ilk.

corporate citizenship" - feels like the mere PR ticking off a list item because:

* lists all the charities helped but without link-outs.

* is the only display of 'citizenship' on the site.

* in the explanation for the 'new breed' name, a nice sales pitch about systems, operations, and clients but no mention of community or employees (except in regard to client fulfilment).


All companies donate to all sorts of charities and community organisations. The PR savvy ones note this in their advertising, as appropriate, and upon their website, as here.

They didn't however, bring this information closer to the front of the site, as a value proposition.


Because that isn't how they view it.


Better examples (I think):

Salt Spring Coffee Co. small company differentiates itself.


IBM - Environment


Google - Green Energy

both read as more 'real' to me than that New Breed page (it seems more like a sub-million dollar mom and pop charity list). Although one can nit pick IBM and Google too. Especially the 'bring closer to the front'. :)


There is increasing (at least in Canada and Europe) interest in a products environmental footprint. Of course we tend to more 'social' than 'free'. :)


That trend certainly supports your premise "eing a solid contributor to your world around you sends a very positive message to prospective customers...". Indeed I expect it to grow in marketing power over the next few years.


But if the effort seems like list ticking or an afterthought it could very well rebound worse than not being addressed at all.

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What you added is extremely valuable information.


My point or perspective at least, seeing the sites I do every day in my work, is that the majority don't make ANY effort to do anything like this.


Now, if we can show the benefits of not only showing conscious business but PROVING it, as you so beautifully illustrated, we may get somewhere! :)



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Well said, iamlost. A website must be an online virtual representation of what the real, physical company is all about. Otherwise there will be a disconnect when a prospect or customer interacts with the real company and assumes that the experience will reflect the virtual representation.


I would suggest the 'green stuff' should be as visible on the website as it is in the real company.

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I used to work at a place where they asked employees how much money they gave to charity so they could tally it up and brag about it. The employer contributed nothing. Nothing.


The same employer wanted employees to spend personal time doing projects so that the company could attach their name to it. No recognition was given to individual employees.


These experiences make me very wary of companies getting out their white hats to wear in public. The truth is.... every white hat must be earned by someone before it can be worn. I'd like to know if the executives of the company earned the white hat or if it was grabbed from the employees who chose to do good "on their own without any goal of recognition".


The New Breed page reminds me of the former employer. The CEO gets repeated credit in the page. The specific amount contributed by the employer is not listed. Maybe the employees contributed $135,000 while the CEO and employer each contributed $23.


I don't want to make this post a total rant, so I'll list what would impress me...


* CEO spends an afternoon every week doing "read aloud" at a local grade school


* company gives each employee one paid afternoon off per month to do volunteer work


* CEO or company matches employee contributions dollar-for-dollar to local charity


* company provides free service to a local government agency that saves tax dollars


* company "adopts a highway" and employees (with CEO) do the work on company time


* company supports $100,000 for local charity, each employee allocates an equal share


These could be communicated on the website with photos and names of who did the work. I think that this would make a lot more interesting presentation. My bet is that the current page on the NB website gets the back button. Stories showing "employee / company involvement" would be read with interest, emailed around, linked to, employees could point to it with pride.

Edited by EGOL

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The reason that many companies have a poor social/environmental conscience is that they often do not have to acknowledge or pay the costs of their actions:

* packaging disposal or recycling costs are not backcharged to their account.

* deforestation for cheap ranchland is 'out of sight' while hospices for sick children and their families are front and centre.


It is interesting that when environment and benefits come together that companies adapt quickly and noticably:

* switching from incandescent to flourescent bulbs (I expect another swift change to led when viable).

* greening factory roofs - more green (occassionally 'public' for employees) space, lower HVAC costs.

* corporate donations to charities and non-profits increase in step with their tax advantages.


Thus it is obvious how to become truly efficient, truly 'green', and truly competitive: require that the producer remains responsible for whatever he, she, or it does.

* a mine is responsible for costs of sealing and reclaiming tailings, maintaining and restoring water quality.

* a manufacturer is responsible for purifying waste products, recycling of packaging and out of service appliances.

* when a country requires its standards for workplace safety and standards to be applied in the making and disposal of imported products wage differences may not appear as great a cost factor.


When the true total life cycle cost is understood and applied to each item we can really truly compare prices. As it is when products are the same price a majority will buy the 'greenest' but that drops drastically as price differential increases.


In much of the developed world governments under social pressure, are beginning to require corporate environmental responsibility, not so much because it is 'right' but rather because society is tired of picking up the corporate tab.


Carbon taxes are an obvious broad based beginning. There is also a whole new industry developing - co-ordinating the return or disposal of packaging and products, i.e. Dell and batteries. And guess what? Surprise! It's good for business.

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Great ideas... thanks for sharing them.

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Time for some socially responsible actions that can benefit both a need and you personally and corporately:

Note: nfp ngo - not for profit non-governmental organisation.


* offer a 'special' discount to those who donate through your site or donate n% of every sale to one or more nfp ngo.

It is good for business to have a good reason to market your goodness.


* sponsor a youth local group or team.

Opportunities for your logo on uniforms, your name in local news coverage, photos, testimonials, press releases, etc. for site content.


* sponsor a child overseas; sponsor or donate to a small specific third world development project, i.e. water well drilling, school building and supply.

A continuing story with images and human drama, change and accomplishment.


* donate to one of the international micro-payment business loan programs.

See above, but with a business twist.


* donate to a local nfp ngo, i.e. [R]SPCA, Salvation Army, or sponsor one of their programs, i.e. hot lunch on Wednesdays, sleeping bags and coats in winter.

News coverage, testimonials, and press releases plus drama and comedy for content.


Do you know how 'green' your hosting is? Have you replaced all your incandescent bulbs? Do you recycle as much as possible in your area? Do you know what is possible? Why not?


Do you include your social conscience in your marketing? Your clients in theirs? Have you or they aligned these efforts with your niche(s)? Why the bleep not?


Me thinks Kim pushed a button. :)

Edited by iamlost

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You know...it's an interesting thing to look at the motivations behind all of this. There's long been an ethic in society that one doesn't publicize one's charitable activities. Doubtless this comes from the Christian teaching of doing your praying and almsgiving in private.


At first, when someone talks about what charities they donate to, I confess to feeling a bit cynical. Why am I being told this? Am I supposed to be...moved, impressed, inspired to act likewise?


But, it does take on a different feeling if the MOTIVE behind this is to get me to do business with Company A over Company B because Company A is not cutting down Canadian forests to print mail order catalogs. To a person like me, that might just win my business. But...that's more in the nature of what the business is actually DOING rather than whom they give money to. And it's also different than offers of "if you buy from us, 45% of the sale will go to saving whales."


I appreciate you posting this topic, Kim. It's real food for thought.


Egol -

Your stories are a good reason to feel cynical. Geez, that is just nuts. I feel embarrassed for that company, whatever it is.


Iamlost - Absolutely love your suggestions for how businesses will need to begin showing us the true cost. The NY Times did a piece recently on the true cost of America's beef habit. Something like half of our contribution in this country to Global Warming comes from cows. This, of course, in addition to the fact that the grain is going to feed the cows instead of to feed people, the global habitat destruction, the health risks created by factory farming and the overall health risks of eating beef. The article was really making an admirable attempt to show the true costs. I was really impressed with it.


So, I guess, Iamlost, if your company can show me that all employees (including the boss!) have boycotted beef, I'll probably do business with you :)



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Businesses Find Case for Social Responsibility


Companies view corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a growth opportunity rather than a regulatory-compliance or philanthropic issue, with 68 percent of firms surveyed focused on generating revenue through CSR activities...


...the maximum benefit from CSR occurs when companies progress along a "value curve" as part of a cohesive strategy, gaining higher returns as they go...


* 76 percent of businesses surveyed admit that they don't truly understand their customers' CSR concerns.

* 63 percent of companies surveyed say they have sufficient information about the sources behind their products and services to satisfy customer concerns, yet even among those 33 percent admit that they don't understand their customers' CSR expectations well.

* 16 percent of respondents said they really engage and collaborate with customers regarding CSR activities.


Article based upon IBM white paper: Attaining sustainable growth through corporate resposibility pdf - 203KB



Off Topic offtopic

So, I guess, Iamlost, if your company can show me that all employees (including the boss!) have boycotted beef...


My companies are me, myself, and I. And iamlost. All of me grew up 'north of 60' (north of the sticks, west of the boonies, south of Santa) and we ate more wild meat than bought. Now I deal with local farmers for organically humanely raised and butchered meat and organic vegetables and fruit (there are advantages to the culture of the wet coast). And I fish and crab for myself.


Know that I have heard the carrot scream upon being torn from the soil and the lamentations of the grain upon the millstone...condemn not the food source but the care of it. Book of iamLost, Volume XIX.


Know that I am omnivorous - in food as in knowledge - and proud of it.

Some of my friends are exclusive plant eaters - and proud of that.

As I tell them: there is an ecological food chain and vegetarians have their place...:pieinface:


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I have to agree that it is not always important to scream one's contributions from the rooftops.


I wonder, though, whether the fact of being a "big corporation" may imply desecration of planetary resources, or something of that nature, and thus kind of require a statement of non-destructiveness. While I don't think that that, as a premise, is necessarily true, it unfortunately reminds me of the old oil company advertisement about maintaining lands for wildlife. At any rate, it's good to see that some companies are contributing but -- EGOL's points well taken -- if they're stating that they're doing something, it had best be true rather than mere public relations.


And, unfortunately, if done wrong, promoting your good contributions may strike people the wrong way, or come off as some sort of uptight "greener than thou" attitude.


iamlost, I have to admit that I like your style. :) And thanks for the Salt Spring Coffee Co. link; I hadn't known about them, and they're perfect for our organic site.

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