Sustainable efforts – to be brave
In the podcast Sustainable Business, I heard a really good example the other day. If a plumber supports Danish hospital clowns as part of his sustainable efforts, one immediately thinks; and so, what. What does it say about the plumber? Although the support is well-intentioned, there is no immediate connection between the plumbing industry and Danish hospital clowns. If, on the other hand, the plumber supports Danish hospital clowns because his child has been hospitalized and has had a positive experience due to the Danish hospital clowns, there is suddenly a relevant connection. However, the connection and relevance only become clear to others when the plumber tells about it. The point here is that it is important to tell about these efforts so that others become aware of them and perceive them as meaningful.
What are you doing that sets you apart from other companies?
Sometimes we may need to be a little more personal and dare to share the stories. Again, and again we experience that our customers and the Danish companies actually do a lot. They are engaged in a whole lot of sustainable efforts, but they do not always tell about them. This can be due to several problems:
- They are afraid of being accused of green washing
- Their stakeholders have not requested it yet
- They take their efforts for granted (and are perhaps afraid to brag?)
The first problem can easily be solved – document your CSR efforts. Be open about your goals, your starting point, and the steps that still lie ahead. It is rare to hear about companies being criticized for being open about having made sustainable efforts, but are not on target yet, right? This exact topic we have addressed in another post, which you can read here.
The second problem, fortunately, we do not experience often anymore. Here, it may also be worth considering that some customers, even though they may not demand a sustainable product directly from you, would actually choose a green product if they were faced with the choice between a conventional and a green product. You can read more about the Millennial generation, which in investment contexts is more oriented towards green standards, such as the ESGs here. Another group of consumers who is also likely to choose products with a positive impact are the so-called aspirationals, which according to this article represent 40% of the global population.
The last problem, which can also be confused with the law of the jante, is still raging out there. Companies do not give themselves the recognition they deserve for their CSR efforts. But it pays off to talk about sustainable initiatives that have the potential to attract both loyal consumers and employees.
Local anchoring as an example – Nordex Food
It can be a very specific effort that is rooted in the local environment and that tells the golden story. Our customer, Nordex Foods, has, for example, initiated a number of sustainable initiatives, such as measuring reduction of carbon emissions and subsequently reduce it at their four dairies; use of certified sustainable palm oil; as well as energy-efficient investments in the dairies. These efforts can be directly related to the company’s core business and are absolutely vital for the credible CSR-narrative. In addition, the company has a special focus on local anchoring, which is why support for local organizations and initiatives is highly valued. Among other things, the company uses student assistants from the local area, and supports the Art Museum in Dronninglund, where they also reside. They have always done so, and they continue to do so because the former director had a special fondness for the museum. This predilection has been inherited by his son, who is Nordex Foods current director. Suddenly, the personal connection and local anchorage appears, which would otherwise excel in its absence.
Source: Nordex Food, 2020
The example above represents a good example of a special reason to support a good cause. For your business, there may also be a specific effort or something that has a special connection to your purpose and brand. A personal priority that you may not have yet linked to your CSR-work because it is deeply rooted in your DNA.
Sustainable efforts – Impact and / or having the matter at heart?
Initially, you may ask yourself – where is your company’s biggest impact? Can elements of the production chain be optimized so that your climate or social footprint is reduced? Start your CSR-efforts there. If a company’s products involve a large consumption of cardboard packaging, an obvious area of focus could be innovation within production and the additional choice of sustainable material types.
To return to the plumber, an effort related to reducing water consumption and sustainable extraction of metal could be good examples of CSR-initiatives, related to his core business. This is not to say that plumbers should not support Danish hospital
Editor: Amanda Madsen