Adding ‘Environmental’ to Your Corporate Responsibility Efforts

It’s time to add environmental stewardship to a company’s CSR metrics. For a company to truly be an exemplary corporate citizen, it must embrace both the social and environmental—as the two are inextricably linked. CSER, or corporate social and environmental responsibility, describes a company’s commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable practices for the greater good. By taking such a holistic approach one can serve both people and the planet, as well as create a meaningful business model as an agent of change.

Being an environmental steward benefits your company’s bottom line. A company that is genuine in its corporate citizenship efforts is an inspiration to its clients, colleagues and employees. If you are good at what you do and your environmental actions are genuine, it is a winning combination that attracts more business. Progressive companies like to do business with other progressive companies. And less progressive companies that see the handwriting on the wall know they can count on you for information, resources and help in getting to where they need to be.

It even helps cement your relationships with the media. A reputation for integrity and honesty prompts the media to open your email and respond positively to you and your clients.

Put CSER at the Center
For a company to be successful at CSER, it needs to start from the inside and work out. The key is being authentic and establishing a mission that speaks to the heart of what you really care about, and how you want to make a difference.
CSER needs to be part of a company’s foundation—a core value that informs both long-term business decisions as well as everyday choices. Taking it a step further, putting CSER at the forefront of a company’s mission allows its business practices and internal culture to be aligned with responsible citizenship. For example, if a company declares its products to be green or its services to be socially responsible, then it is absolutely necessary for that company’s own practices to be in alignment with the external message.

At Parsons Public Relations, CSER is the foundation of our business, driving all that we do. It’s the lens or filter through which we work—shaping our business practices, how we interact with clients and how we relate to the local community. It’s essentially become part of our brand, defining us as good corporate citizens.
Van Jones, human rights activist and promoter of creating a “Green Collar Economy,” noted during a recent talk in Seattle that our pollution- and poison-based economy has the greatest effect on the poor, who receive the brunt of natural disasters and have the worst health care. He advocates for the business community to be the communicators calling for protection of a vulnerable planet and vulnerable people.

Green the Office
At Parsons Public Relations, we recently completed a green remodel of our office space, and are always looking for ways to decrease our ecological footprint. Practices that we employ and that you can do, too, include:
â–     Formalize purchasing policy to include buying locally manufactured and/or recycled content products where possible.

â–     Compost food scraps and recycle waste.

â–     Switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

â–     Turn off lights and computers and unplug electronic devices when not needed.

â–     Support the development of renewable energy through your local utility.

â–     Use alternative transportation and/or telecommute part of the time.

â–     Offset employees’ carbon emissions through TerraPass or similar programs.

By evaluating your business’ environmental impact and formalizing policies for responsible business practices, you serve as a model of change for your colleagues and clients to emulate.

Foster Community
CSER activities should be geared to facilitate connections among clients, colleagues and friends to increase awareness of particular causes and inspire meaningful action. Examples include:

â–     Invite conversation. At Parsons Public Relations, we host gatherings called GoodWorks Social Hours, to which colleagues, clients and friends are invited to learn about important environmental and social causes from local nonprofit organizations. These informal gatherings spur conversation about the health and vitality of our region, spark new relationships among the people that attend and often inspire people to take action.

â–     Be part of the community. We look for opportunities to share our strengths. Our employees are encouraged to serve on nonprofit boards and are allowed time during the work day for these activities. We also share what we know by offering PR 101 seminars pro bono to nonprofit groups or through presentations at conferences. This allows us to make our charitable commitment visible and market ourselves as PR experts as well.

â–     Get clients and colleagues involved. We organize service projects such as creating a garden at a residential facility for troubled youth or helping save endangered Leatherback turtle habitat. Clients, friends and families are invited to lend a hand. By engaging others, we empower them to be change agents.

This article was written by Joanie Parsons, president and founder of Parsons Public Relations.It was excerpted from the PR News Going Green: Case Studies in Outstanding Green Business Practices, Volume 1. To order a copy, visit the