Last month, Newsweek published its inaugural “Green Rankings”—a list of the 500 most environmentally-responsible U.S.-based companies. Environmental data is admittedly hard to collect and compare across vastly different industries (obviously the carbon footprint of an oil company will be greater than that of a consulting firm). But Newsweek did its best to acknowledge efforts to improve environmental policies, performance, and reputation by assigning each company an industry-adjusted “Green Score.”
I was expecting to see General Electric at the top of the list, mostly as a result of its Ecomagination campaign. Not surprisingly, GE’s reputation survey score came in at 2nd, behind only Walmart. But I was surprised and, if I’m being honest, a little pleased to see that GE was ranked only 82nd overall and a mere 261st for its green policies and performance. Apparently, and thankfully, Newsweek based a company’s total Green Score on more than expensive above-the-line marketing and Wizard-of-Oz-themed Superbowl ads. If external communications can’t secure a more enviable spot in the Green Rankings, what can?
Well, lots of things, obviously. Low carbon emissions, energy efficiency, and waste reduction, to name a few. But beyond that, how “green” can a company truly become if it doesn’t expend effort on its internal communications?
In mid-October, Ethical Corporation published a four-part series on social media and sustainability (you can get a free two-week subscription to read the full article text). The first part supported the argument for using social media to engage with stakeholders on sustainability issues. Based on the bottom-up origins of both movements, the integration of the two seems only natural.
The second article in the series dealt with the growth of social networking, the new tools that continue to evolve and expand, and the best way to harness social networking to promote corporate sustainability and responsibility.
The next section tackled the ongoing debate over who owns social media. Is it a PR function? Does it belong to marketing ? Or, in this case, maybe the corporate social responsibility (CSR) department, if there is one, should take over. The reality is that social media is present throughout an organization and every employee, regardless of job description, should be called upon to be active in the movement.
The fourth and final section is what got my attention with this underlying premise: when it comes to CSR, employee engagement is not a novelty, it is a necessity.
Most companies now recognize the business value and good karma that results from CSR, but the challenge remains to integrate it into corporate culture and make it a part of every employee’s experience. This happens to be the topic of my next post, so stay tuned!
(Photo credit: Wired.com)