As a result of the gridlocked United Nations (UN) climate talks in November — COP27 in Egypt was extended to allow for urgent last-minute discussions regarding wealthy nations’ funding for developing countries. After days of intense negotiations, countries finally agreed to compensate vulnerable nations for “loss and damage” from crises caused by climate disaster.
2022 saw the effects of climate change take devastating charge, with its summer breaking records worldwide. June saw the warmest temperatures on record and record-breaking heat waves dominated the northern hemisphere, especially continental Europe, the UK (it experienced temperatures of over 40ºC in August), China, and parts of the USA.
Natural disasters, linked to rising temperatures and sea levels, included; the California wildfires, the severe food and water shortages in Somalia and Ethiopia and, the catastrophic floods in Sudan and South Sudan. Climate activists have long called for less rhetoric and more action. The events of 2022 proved more action is now urgently required.
Several years ago we established our own focus on working in the sustainability, CSR, and non-profit area called, UP FOR GOOD. In fact, nearly 12 years ago, UP was established as a cloud-based company with this core purpose at our roots. We believe it’s vital to ensure that honest CSR goes beyond greenwashing to make real and lasting change.
Many organizations (and, let’s not forget individuals) are seeing how truly sustainable behavior not only benefits the environment, but also the bottom line. Consumers are increasingly choosing purpose-driven companies who can transparently demonstrate their commitment to helping the environment. An Aflac report on corporate social responsibility (CSR) highlighted that 77% of consumers are; “motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world better”.
Organizational action is under the spotlight more than ever before. Take Nestlé for example. The confectionery manufacturer has been linked to many claims of scandalous activity. From the boycott stemming from the marketing of formula milk for babies in developing countries in the 1970’s, to rows over bottled water extraction in North America. In November 2022, the Sunday Times reported that about 1.5 million children are believed to be working in the cocoa fields in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Now, Nestlé has started paying farmers to stop this practice.
The confectionary giant has also established its Nestlé Cocoa Plan and the plan combined with its Rainforest Alliance certification, allows the company to take steps to address social and environmental issues, so as to “create a sustainable cocoa supply chain”. The company says that it is committed to sourcing 100% of its cocoa through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025. Nestlé categorized their pledge into three pillars — Better Farming, Better Lives, and Better Cocoa.
Now… let’s explore 5 ways in which companies could take more action to mitigate the effects of climate change:
#1 Running Eco-friendly business operations
An ever-increasing number of companies (from SMEs to multinationals) are adopting eco-friendly measures throughout all elements of their operations. People now expect companies to demonstrate considerably more action than simply promoting the odd virtual meeting or car pool.
Consumers, clients and… increasingly, employees are looking for companies that integrate eco-friendly practices throughout all aspects of their operations. Unsurprisingly, they are looking for tangible examples — not just pledges. Here are a couple of brands that are regarded by many as being true to their word.
The outdoor clothing company Patagonia features as number one on countless eco-friendly lists. The label amassed a cult following for its steadfast commitment to sustainability, with the brand guaranteeing its clothes for life.
For over 47 years, the innovative brand has been at the cutting-edge of adopting sustainable business practices and demonstrating action over rhetoric. The latter demonstrated to the highest effect in September 2022 when Yvon Chouinard, the company’s billionaire founder, gave the company away to a charitable trust.
Chouinard stated that any profit not reinvested in running the business would go towards fighting climate change. The website reads "Earth is now our only shareholder”. Patagonia's Action Works initiative connects committed individuals to organizations working on environmental issues within their community.
TOMS, the casual shoe brand features on nearly all eco-friendly lists — and, for good reason. TOMS pioneered the One for One® model (for every pair of shoes sold, one pair is given away to someone in need). The company now gives a third of its profits away to do “grassroots good”. It also supports larger health, education, and community development programs through strategic partnerships.
The brand’s founder Blake Mycoskie states that since the brand’s inception in 2006, the TOMS community has made; “a positive impact on over 100,000,000 lives”. Its plans are just beginning according to Mycoskie.
#2 Establishing a socially responsible workforce
The majority of companies now implement CSR strategies. The compilation of such strategies is no longer viewed as a choice, but as a necessary commitment. Robust social responsibility pledges are also being used to attract and retain talented and… socially conscious employees.
Many organizations are now hiring employees for specific CSR-related teams or positions across all business sectors (including logistics, sales and marketing, and policy). According to research by Porter Novelli, 93% of employees believe that “companies must lead with purpose”.
CSR practices must be integrated into systems, processes and, most importantly, into an organization’s overall strategy. The importance of CSR must be clearly communicated to, and understood by all employees and stakeholders.
When developing and honing their CSR strategies, many companies look to the strategic pillars that sit under the acronym ESG — Environmental, Social, and Governance. Increasingly, brands are also choosing to showcase their commitment to sustainable practices through platforms such as podcasts and blogs. These include the Mckinsey podcast and Forbes’ CSR blog.
# 3. Considering the Voluntary Carbon Markets
Voluntary carbon markets (VCM) can enable carbon emitters to offset their unavoidable emissions by purchasing carbon credits. Organizations operating within the VCM, such as Climate Impact Partners provide companies (ranging from SMEs to multinationals) with a range of climate focused solutions designed to help them to offset their carbon emissions. Possible solutions include:
- Carbon neutral certification: Carbon neutrality aims to deliver timely climate action and support the global low-carbon transformation. It is described as being the leading framework for companies to be carbon neutral and the protocol is used by brands including Dell, HP and Sky.
- Carbon offsetting: Carbon offsetting enables companies to meet ambitious climate goals, puts a price on carbon to incentivize further action and can provide critical finance to accelerate the world’s transition to a low-carbon future. Companies including Disney, General Motors, Unilever, and Salesforce invest in carbon offsetting schemes. Schemes often fund projects focused on forestry and conservation (including restoring mangroves), renewable energy and community projects (such as funding healthcare and new schools in developing countries).
#4. Achieving B Corporation Certification
B Corp Certification is being increasingly viewed by many as being the most coveted form of sustainability certification. Measuring a company’s entire social and environmental impact, the certification confirms that an organization has identified its commitment to shared ethical and environmental goals. Certification demonstrates that a company is achieving high social and environmental standards, transparency as well as legal accountability, while balancing profit with purpose and the needs of the planet.
There are now over 1,000 B Corps in the UK (almost double the 2021 total). Certified UK companies include Innocent Drinks, Jojo Maman Bébé, Finisterre, and Sipsmith. Globally, there are more than 6,000 B Corps in 80 countries and these include The Body Shop and Evian.
#5. Entering awards for environmental initiatives
Responsible Business Awards
Reuters Events Responsible Business Awards claim to be the world’s leading awards celebrating “leadership in sustainable business”. Running since 2009, the awards have served as the benchmark for businesses worldwide looking to showcase real leadership against their international peers. 2022 award categories included:
- The net zero transition award
- The social impact award
- The biodiversity champion award
Champions of the Earth
Since their inception in 2005, the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) “Champions of the Earth” awards have profiled “environmental trail blazers”. These individuals are classified as inspiring people who drive transformative change and call for large-scale solutions. Award categories include lifetime achievement, science and innovation, and entrepreneurial vision.
The 2022 winners of the annual Earthshot Prize awards were announced in early December. Prince William (the founder of this prestigious award scheme) unveiled the five winners of £1m ($1.2m). Each winner received this sum to help further develop their innovative solution to help fight climate change. Five winners are selected annually and the 2022 winners included childhood friends who worked out how to turn carbon dioxide into rock, and a female-only business producing stoves fired by processed biomass made from charcoal, wood, and sugarcane (instead of solid fuels).
Companies are expected to play an increasingly significant role in making the world a better place. UP FOR GOOD believes in a bright future where good business is a combination of commercially successful business, and doing good. At UP, we call this “Good Business”. Every UP member donates 5% of their time to a charitable cause that they feel is important. Recently, UP launched our latest project, FUSE. Learn more from Julian Stubbs in this YouTube video.
More information on UP FOR GOOD: see how we could help your company become more socially responsible.
Click here to see our own CSR policy and commitment.