Greening the Landscape of Modern-Day Businesses

With soaring gas prices, concerns about global warming and the conservation of the Earth’s water and energy supply on the rise, today’s generations are bonding together in an effort to preserve our health and natural resources as well as to sustain our livelihood on the planet. No matter what generation individuals are classified as, we are all part of the “green generation,” namely those seeking a prosperous future on a healthy Mother Earth.

Individuals, non-profit organizations and even today’s largest and most well-respected enterprises are embracing this movement. This is not the tree hugging of the past; here there is real tangible action that seeks results.

Ranking Priorities
According to The Center for Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability’s 2006 conference report to assist senior executives regarding corporate social responsibility issues, 78 percent of 198 multinational companies described corporate citizenship including good environmental practices, as “very” or “extremely important” in the recruitment and retention of employees. Recruiting and retaining talent was scored second in importance only to enhancing corporate reputation and brand, evidence of the need for employers to quickly gain the attention and respect of job applicants and their current employees. As challenging as it is to employ today’s vibrant, high-performance employees, it’s even harder to keep hold of them. Success often stems from a company’s willingness to create an eco-friendly work environment while demonstrating a vast commitment to the world at large.

Hiring “Green” Employees
Review any internal employee satisfaction survey and you’ll find that a green corporate culture actually ranks high on the list. Today’s pool of employees hunt for companies that support a healthy lifestyle and this includes the environment. To the current workforce, a company’s social responsibility policies and sensitivity to ecological issues is a catalyst for assessing how an organization treats its employees. It also showcases a business’s commitment to world sustainability, not just profits.

A recent Adecco USA Workplace Insights Survey found that of the 2,500 U.S. adults surveyed, one-third prefer to work for an environmentally-conscious company. About half of employed adults surveyed (52 percent) think their company should do more to be environmentally friendly, and only about 22 percent said their company already does enough or too much.

Mid-career professionals may also leave their current jobs to work for an organization that serves a larger purpose and is part of the solution. In the recruitment phase, job applicants, especially the younger generations, will come right out and inquire about the actions and initiatives the corporation is mandating to clean up our world.  It is not just about finding a job anymore, modern-day applicants and even the currently employed are looking for personal fulfillment in their career paths, often leading to working for a business that cares about the future of our planet.

Creating an Enviromental Work Culture
Creating a healthy work culture and communicating company environmental policies to your team can also be helpful for those businesses looking to employ the eco-minded workforce. If just starting out, try initiating some simple programs. At my marketing agency, Kleber & Associates, we recently launched the “Kleber Green Team.” This eco-conscious team is comprised of Kleber employees looking to achieve a greener way of life and extending that to our company, office, communications and clients.

We started with simple things such as centrally collecting the multitude of magazines, newspapers, and paper products that a marketing firm accumulates around the office for recycling. We also have a “don’t be afraid of the dark” initiative where lights are turned off when employees are attending meetings or at night and over the weekend.

We also regularly check to ensure all lights are off in restrooms and conference rooms when they are not being used. This company-wide awareness campaign also instructs all employees to put their computers on energy savings mode when they are not being utilized, or, if the employees are going to be away from their desk. Moreover, the green team initiative directs that all electronic devices are unplugged when not being used, as they still pull residual energy from the sockets. Making ecological practice a habit is the goal. From a corporate standpoint, we all save by reducing energy waste and cost.

Gifts are another way to get your employees and your customers to embrace the green movement while giving back to the community. Think about it: Something that would benefit all of us is the best gift of all. This past year, Kleber & Associates gave SIGG water bottles to our valued clients and friends. SIGG bottles are manufactured in an ecologically-friendly environment and are 100% recyclable after their very long lives. In fact, most SIGGs are still being used 10-20 years after purchase.

These are just a few ideas and initiatives businesses can embrace to enhance substantial results and internal awareness of a healthy and eco-friendly work culture. There are plenty of green programs any company can employ to get the ball rolling, which often times serves as a stepping stone for future CSR commitments.

The green movement is not a fad, and although the words corporate social responsibility may have some business owners cringing, corporations’ social responsibility goals and subsequent outreach will attract new hires, earn the respect of current employees, and may even motivate customers to align with their vision. The bigger payoff? Inspiring a secure and healthy future for all generations.

This article was written by Steven Kebler, president and founder of Kleber & Associates, Marketing & Communications. It was excerpted from a larger feature that appears in PR News Guide to Best Practices in Corporate Social Responsibility - Vol 2. To order a copy, please go to: