CSR: What SMEs Need

June 12th and 13th in Berlin. Block your diaries these days for the first international conference called “Networking for Better Corporate Social Responsibility Advice for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises”, to which our consultant Juan Villamayor has been invited, along with other 99 CSR consultants. This conference, funded by the European Commission, will be a forum for experts from all over Europe, specialized in sustainability in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). There will be discussions about how to provide better advice to European SME’s, and how we can contribute to better sustainability strategies in European SMEs.

CSR consultants are already sharing views via social media more and more often. However, it’s what SMEs do in terms of sustainability what is missed. Most often it’s big corporation language.

Consultants can act as a bridge between SMEs, exchanging experiences, know-how and points of view. This is the only way that”small” CSR best practices will be known not only in small, local circles, but also in wider platforms where they can be used by other organizations. A networking event like this has many challenges to face:

  • Spread the news about CSR best practices in SMEs. Usually it is bigger corporations’ programs the only ones that get in the picture, leaving aside useful learnings and experiences made by smaller companies. The path towards sustainability for a SME can have completely different challenges and motivations. Very often what is good for a MNC is not necessarily good for a SME.
  • Create a “best practices database” where both SMEs and consultants can contribute and profit from. Unfortunately, very often brilliant initiatives with great benefits have a limited audience. They should be accessible through this platform.
  • European CSR needs to happen at smaller scale, or it won’t happen at all. According to the European Commission, “SMEs provide two out of three of the private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total value-added created by businesses in the EU”. European CSR programs have to take this into account if they really want to succeed. SMEs need an environment where they feel comfortable and free to discuss how they manage their CSR and sustainability strategies. This conference should be this ideal environment.
  • Share, optimize, improve existing initiatives. For instance, there are dozens of self-diagnose tools that remain known only to few people and companies, mainly because they are local initiatives, or because they don’t have the proper forum where they can be analyzed and discussed. These initiatives should be shared, compared and complemented in order to avoid duplicities and create synergies.
  • Find the best ways to help smaller companies become part of a sustainable supply chain. In some cases sustainability comes top-down: First, multinational companies decide to adopt a sustainable strategy and, later on, they demand the same from their suppliers (often SMEs). Small and medium businesses need to be prepared for that.
  • Simplify things for SMEs: Speak their language, use their scale, be one of them.
  • Turn CSR benefits into real value. Explain CSR to SMEs by using examples that bring added value to their activities. Don’t be abstract, get specific, talk about value creation.
  • The conference should definitely go beyond consultant networking and facilitate networking between SMEs as well.
  • Help companies find new businesses opportunities that are hidden behind the curtain. Tear this curtain down and help SMEs discover a whole new world of green, sustainable activities.
  • The conference should prepare the shift from an economy based of the production of stuff to a new model based on added value and more services.This applies as well on SMEs.

Stay in tune, we will keep you posted!

Calling All Green Business Entrepreneurs: Get Free Business Lessons for at GBESS Virtual Event

Are you a green business owner or social entrepreneur who believes you can make a positive impact in the world without going broke? Have you always longed to start a sustainable business, but you are not quite sure how to do it, or don’t know what you want to sell?

Whether you are an aspiring social entrepreneur or already have a sustainable business you want to take to the next level, you will get valuable information just by attending this FREE virtual event series.

The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit

The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit is a FREE virtual, week long, alternative Green MBA, featuring the visionary leaders who are DEFINING the green economy and ethical marketplace, plus marketing gurus who will help you take your business to the next level.

Here are the details: April 16-20 Earth Week 2012

To get access to the calls, please register: http://www.greenbusinessentrepreneurs.com/

This is a FREE Event brought to you by Green Marketing TV

Who Should Attend

  • Established green business owners and green business professionals
  • Mission driven entrepreneurs who believe in sustainability
  • Green marketers & green product designers
  • Forward thinking intrapraneurs driving corporate sustainability initiatives
  • Early stage green startup entrepreneurs
  • Aspiring green and social entrepreneurs researching innovative business ideas
  • Changemakers seeking to unite purpose, passion and profit

What You Will Learn

  • Evaluating the Marketplace & Identifying Your Niche
  • Developing Your Visionary Business Idea
  • Raising Capital Through Business Plan Competitions, Crowdfunding & VC Investment
  • Growing Your Business Without Going Crazy
  • Marketing Your Business on a Bootstrap Budget

Panel Topics

Monday April 16 | Track 1 – The Growth of the Green Economy & Ethical Markets:

  • What Will It Take to Co-Create a Green Economy?
  • The Greening of Mainstream Business In Non-Green Markets
  • Ways Sustainable Business is Going Global & Improving Social Conditions
  • Hottest Opportunities in the $290 billion US LOHAS Market
  • Making Green Sexy: Guerrilla Marketing Tactics for Small Green Businesses

Register Now

Tuesday April 17 | Track 2 – From Visionary Business Idea…

  • Keys to Manifesting Entrepreneurial Success Using the Law of Attraction
  • Hacking Social Enterprise Business Plan Competitions
  • How to Attract VC Investors to Fund Your Social Enterprise
  • Who’s Funding What in the Social Capital Market Place
  • The Art of Defining Your Niche & Attracting Your Perfect Fit Clients
  • How to Launch a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Register Now

Wednesday April 18 | Track 3 – …To Thriving Green Enterprise:

  • The New Rules of Green Marketing: What Green Entrepreneurs Need to Know Now
  • Small Companies Creating Cool Green Products
  • How to Power Network Your Way to a More Sustainable World
  • Online Productivity Tools Every Small Business Should Know About
  • Innovative Social Entrepreneurs Who Are Creating Scalable Solutions – And How You Can Be One Too

Register Now

Thursday April 19 | Track 4 – Grow Your Good Business With Social Media Marketing

  • Your Small Business Social Media Command Central
  • Cracking the Code to Profitable Social Media Marketing As a Small Business
  • Your Social Media Launch BluePrint & Advanced Strategies for Savvy Marketers
  • Facebook – From Social Time Suck to Lead Generation Machine
  • What it Takes to Build a 6 Figure Business For Good Blogging Empire
  • From Green Blog to Green Business – Creative Blog Monetization Strategies

Register Now

Friday April 20 | Track 5 – Bootstrap Internet Marketing for Green & Socially Responsible Business

  • Creating Your First Small Business Website on a Bootstrap Budget
  • WordPress SEO Strategies for Time Strapped Small Businesses
  • The Art of Turning Website Visitors Into Adoring Customers
  • Why Local SEO Matters for Your Small Green Business
  • Grow Your Sustainable Business with Green Affiliate Marketing

Register Now

Speakers

Speakers include:

Marcos Cordero, CEO of the Green Business Bureau;

Steven Hoffman, Co-Founder of the LOHAS Journal & LOHAS Forum;

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Life Media & Sustainable Brands Conference;

Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director Green America & Green Festivals;

Shel Horowitz, Author of Guerilla Marketing Goes Green;

Bob Doyle, CEO of Boundless Living & Wealth Beyond Reason;

Morgan Morris, Co-Founder of Inspire Green Inc;

Tyler Gage, Co-Founder of Runa Amazon Guayusa Tea Company;

Kevin Jones, Co-Founder of the SOCAP Conference & Good Capital;

Tad Hargrave, Founder of Marketing for Hippies;

Scott Cooney, Founder of GreenBusinessOwner.com;

Jacquie Ottman, Author of The New Rules of Green Marketing;

Elena Christopoulos, Executive Director of the Green Chamber of Commerce;

Nikki Pava, Co-Founder of EcoTuesday & Founder of Alegria Partners;

Lorna Li, Founder of Green Marketing TV & Host of the Entrepreneurs for a Change Podcast;

Katrina Heppler, Founder of EnvisionGood.tv;

Cory Smith, CEO of The Hub Bay Area, Hub Ventures, & SOCAP Conference;

JD Lasica, Founder of SocialBrite.org & SocialMedia.biz;

George Kao, Holistic Marketing Coach;

Nick Aster, Founder Triple Pundit, Co-Founder TreeHugger;

Joost de Valk, Founder Yoast.com & Creator of WordPress SEO Plugin;

Rich Brooks, President Flyte New Media;

David Mihm, Co-Founder of GetListed.org & Local SEO Consultant;

Warren Fligg, Founder Performance-Based Green Affiliate Network;

Kate Harrison, Founder of the Green Bride Guide.

Register Now

About Green Marketing TV

The Green Business Entrepreneurs Success Summit is brought to you by Green Marketing TV, a business blog for green and social entrepreneurs – entrepreneurs who care about people, profits, and the planet.

Our mission is to provide socially responsible entrepreneurs with marketing strategies, tips and tools that help them grow their small to medium sized businesses. We offer insightful entrepreneur interviews, news coverage of inspiring organizations, actionable marketing advice, and useful guides on how to start and grow a triple bottom line business, without going crazy.

Valentine’s Day is a Fantastic Opportunity for Stakeholder Engagement


Valentine’s Day has had a long history, and for centuries has been celebrated as the day of romantic love. It’s been referred in several literary works through the centuries, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the Middle Ages, people exchanged hand-made paper cards as tokens of love. Since 1913, when Hallmark started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards, it has never been the same. Last year, Valentine’s Day sales reached around $18.6 billion, which is a far cry from hand-made cards.

Now however, with sustainability as the watch-word, everybody is trying to show a little love by going green. A simple Google search will inform you all about the green products out there including Fairtrade chocolate and sustainable greeting cards. Although Valentine’s Day does not have a lot of corporate connotations, it is a fantastic opportunity for companies to do some stakeholder engagement.

1) Use the Good Mood: With several people in good mood and on the look-out for a perfect gift, companies can become more creative with their CSR agenda. It may well become one of the top days for corporate volunteering. Volunteering will not only increase the feel-good feeling but will also give the singles an opportunity to share in the spirit of things.
2) Reinforce Your Brand: Companies producing eco-friendly products, Fairtrade chocolate, and other sustainable Valentine’s goodies could benefit by reinforcing this brand image by promoting sustainability. This is also a good opportunities for businesses like restaurants, florists, jewellers, vineyards, tour companies, and even online dating sites to show what they’re doing to love the planet.
3) Show Some Love: Find creative ways to tell your customers you value their custom. Have an internal event to tell your employees that you appreciate their work ethic. Have community engagement projects to engage with the people who benefit from your business presence.
There are several companies that are doing all this as part of their CSR but Valentine’s Day is special. Innocent Smoothies, started its initiative called the Big Knit in 2003 to help elderly people stay warm in winter. This initiative is a fantastic example of using all three of the above points to come up with a CSR program that really grabs your stakeholders.
At the end of the day, Valentine’s Day need not just be a ‘couples only’ event. With a little imagination and fore-thought, companies can turn this day of love into something that is memorable and enjoyable.

Sustainability: The Benefits of Employee Engagement

Photography by - Andrea Booher

Why should you engage your employees in sustainability? Employees are a company’s essential stakeholders, its “most valuable assets” as often stated in mission statements. John Drummond, the CEO of Corporate Culture who spoke on employee engagement at  the Economist Sustainable Business Summit on March 17 in London considers that “an organization is its employees“, and therefore, a natural component of its sustainability strategy.

In a recent blog post, CSR Consultant Celesa Horvath offered an interesting insight into the benefits of employee engagement in sustainability.

She wrote that in her experience,” early employee engagement enables the development of a bespoke approach to CR and sustainability that is relevant and sensitive to the realities of each specific organization, and which enjoys a high degree of support and buy-in from the outset.”

Engaging employees in sustainability is a perfect opportunity, especially for SMBs, to initially define – or measure the efficiency of - a company’s sustainability strategy.

Other benefits of employees engagement are:

  • Identify and promote internal talent and drive loyalty
  • Inspire staff and impact individual and collective behaviors within or outside the workplace
  • Find solutions to specific sustainability issues
  • Help achieve specific business targets
  • Impact employees motivation
  •  Help attract and retain talent
  •  Make your employees your most valuable “sustainability ambassadors”

Both John and Celesa, acknowledged the fact that the first step towards a successful employee engagement in sustainability is to ensure a clear commitment at the  Board level and a consistent message across the company in case of a ”top-down” initial approach. The role of middle management in this process is essential.

In a recent round-table about employee engagement, participants highlighted the interest of  “an integrated approach, blending top-down & bottom-up ideas” in order to improve sustainability management across departments, employee communications and to inspire the change.

The main idea here is that top management should define the strategic roadmap and then involve employees in defining the ‘how to”.

A top-down roll out may also be appropriate to meet specific ‘efficiency’ goals. Expert Glennon Franklin, Director of Strategic GreenSource, wrote in a recent blog post that “in this stagnant economy, everyone is focused on cutting costs to drive higher profitability” and that  “getting your employees engaged in sustainable business practices is a quick and efficient way to achieve those savings.”

However it is  hard  to engage employees & change behaviour around “dry goals” such as ‘cost-saving’, rules or restrictions (‘don’t; ‘use less’…). That’s why positive actions, that cover both professional and private areas, usually increase employee engagement.

Why CSR Should be “Business as Usual” for SME’s?

The purpose of our blog & newsletter is not just to give our readers news about Green Den but also to educate and inform. One of the often neglected aspect of CSR is the impact it can have on small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The four pillars of CSR are responsibilities in the workplace, marketplace, community and environment; SMEs play a pivotal role in all four avenues. 90% of the world’s business comes from SMEs and they employ about 50% of the world’s population. The kind of change they are capable of is community-based, continued investment to uplift their key stakeholders. This is something that CSR models based on big companies can never hope to achieve. Change at the grass-root level is what every ethical business dreams of and this is where small enterprises stand to gain enormously.


Diverting away from the kitschy big-business idea of CSR, small business have the advantage of direct interaction with the community from out of which they operate. What they need to be convinced about is whether or not it makes business sense for them to be ‘socially responsible’. The answer is a resounding yes!


First of all it must be stressed that CSR is not just policy, it is a principle of doing business. It is not something that is done as an add-on, it is something that is incorporated into your way of doing business. In this scenario, it offers businesses many benefits in terms of better shareholder relationships and also acts as a powerful tool for word-of-mouth advertising.It offers SMEs added benefits in terms of strengthening their relationship within the community and acting as an example to make people’s lives better. The most important reason why small companies should engage in CSR activities is to improve their export markets. Acting as a part of the supply chain means that export products to a big company needs to meet certain standards all along the chain. This is the single more important competitive benefit that SMEs have by incorporating CSR into their business. It is especially important for small businesses in emerging economies supplying to companies with multiple supply chains.Secondly, mainstreaming CSR into any business is a challenge. By incorporating the principles of CSR in the early stages of growth, SMEs have another advantage over companies that have already reached a certain size. Forming principles, processes and structures becomes easier along with reporting and policy writing. Developing a culture of sustainability within the organization becomes more streamlined and employees know what it means to be sustainable.

Finally, it makes business sense. This is something that the larger companies are beginning to understand. When the small companies jump on this idea, the limits to green business has no bounds. In fact, the term might just become obsolete along with the term ‘business as usual’ because every business will be ethical, sustainable and profitable. This is a dream worth working towards…

Why CSR is Greater than the Sum of its Parts?

Combining the three parts of social equity, environmental responsibility and corporate profit, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an important concept in today’s business climate. These CSR elements are also known by the catchy phrases “people, planet, profit” or “triple bottom line.” Auditing these components and creating an integrated plan to improve and capitalize on them, brings tremendous marketplace gains for a business. Not only are these three pieces of the CSR puzzle inseparable, but with positive feedback mechanisms, they also create a sum benefit much greater than any one of the parts.

People

If customers and employees are treated as important partners in a mutually beneficial business relationship, business profitability becomes much more sustainable over the long-term. Healthy, satisfied customers are loyal customers that will continue to return to the business. A safe, healthy and environmentally friendly workplace for employees causes them to take fewer sick days and stay with the company longer, allowing fewer work delays and decreasing turnover and training costs. By organizing and participating in social charity work, a business enhances name recognition, positive reputation and essential public relations value.

Planet

Corporate environmental sensitivity ensures the health and safety of customers, employees and a sustainable supply of natural resources. For example, reducing toxins and petrochemicals may not only lower manufacturing costs but also reduce risk management and employee insurance costs. Increasing efficiency in terms of water, energy and material use directly impacts the environmental footprint of a business, which alone has great marketing value, but also allows for a reliable supply of resources or expanded operations based on the same resource flow. Ecological restoration projects can have significant marketable offset value and can sometimes even provide ecosystem services to business operations.

Profit

Ensuring social equity and environmental integrity impact present bottom line profits and maintain longevity of profits. Efficiency measures, resource use reduction, employee health and safety and CSR marketing initiatives can reduce costs and improve brand value. Long-term business stability is sustained by preserving customer and supply chain viability through natural resource protection, customer loyalty and positive brand management opportunities. In turn, a more profitable business is able to spend more capital on social and environmental programs, which cycles back into profitability.

The inseparable nature of CSR components creates positive and integrated feedback mechanisms that sustain global business, environment and society. A systemized approach to people, planet and profit is one of the most important tools that a business can use to succeed today.

The Cost of Un-Sustainability!

Does being green and sustainable always cost more?

There is a common misconception among many corporations, businesses and even consumers that being environmentally responsible always costs more. This could not be farther from the truth. There are instances when greener products or practices may cost more but businesses that incorporate social and environment safeguards actually improve efficiency, reduce waste and increase profits margins. Consumers who practice green living live more fulfilled and healthy lives. While supporting a sustainable environment, they are also ensuring they have a product or service to sell or enjoy tomorrow.

What’s closer to the truth is that being insensitive to the environment and social good will cost businesses heavily in the long run. Per the goodpurpose study, while choosing between two brands of equal quality and price, consumers worldwide value social purpose as the deciding factor over design, innovation and brand loyalty. We can safely say that without social and environmental responsibility, there is no long run!