By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder, Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. http://geoffdeweaver.com/
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not going to fix or solve the world’s problems e.g. Climate Change, Equity, Education, Healthcare, etc. But is can make a huge difference…
Apple, the world’s biggest and most successful tech company, is also the world’s first $700B company. This is not surprising, because according to all reports, Apple’s Chinese workers ‘pump out’ millions highly profitable iPhones each and every week. BUT, I was delighted to learn its CEO Tim Cook takes climate change very seriously and are committed to renewable energy. Earlier this year, Tim Cook revealed Apple’s plans to build a 130-megawatt solar farm to power its stores and facilities located in California.
Picture: Apple Spaceship HQ 100% Solar Powered
Speaking at a Tech conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, Tim Cook stated Apple is working closely with First Solar to build the $850-million plant shown above. It will be sited on 1,300 acres in the interior of central Monterey County, Calif. This means that Apple will receive its electricity, i.e. 130 megawatts (MW)AC delivered by this solar project under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to provide it with clean energy as a commercial end user. Thus, becoming the largest agreement of this type in the industry.
Joe Kishkill, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar said, ‘”Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy.” He went on to say, “Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California. Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact.”
I certainly hope other Fortune 100 companies follow Apple’s example with this type of CSR initiative because Apple’s renewable energy systems set an amazing example of how applying the principles of CSR can deliver value as well as protect and enhance the environment. I also loved hearing Tim Cook say, “We know at Apple, that climate change is real… Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now.”
Picture: Richard Branson’s companies & CSR
Not only is CSR a great way for major corporations to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, but CSR also enables them to benefit society. Richard Branson described why and how Virgin has become so successful when wrote:
‘The Global Goals are about everyone and for everyone. Hunger, clean water, gender equality, peaceful societies, quality education, good health and wellbeing, clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation, inequality, sustainable cities, responsible consumption, climate action, poverty, ocean conservation, sustainable ecosystems and global partnerships are all on the table.” He went on to say….
‘I’m proud to lend my voice to promoting the Global Goals, and I’m not alone. Stephen Hawkings, One Direction, Malala, Kate Winslet, Chris Martin, Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon, Melinda Gates, plus so many more influential names have vouched to do all they can to get the word out there. Because if the goals are going to work, everyone needs to know about them.’
Fortune 500’s and companies that “get” CSR are the ones that are using sustainability, as I prefer to say, as a way to push the following business processes into their organizations because as Henry Ford said…
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Fortune 500’s and companies that “get” CSR are the ones that are using sustainability as a way to push the following business processes into their organizations. So you need to think about the following:
CSR is an effort to look at the company’s long-term interests and ensure that its future is sustainable or ‘future proofed’. Leadership is generally driven by pressure from (1) Consumer Demand or (2) Stakeholders e.g. investors, staff/employees, suppliers, partners and the broad community. CSR emanates from causes/issues that are reflected by such things being environmentally sustainable, focused on equity even the use of non-animal-tested ingredients, being pesticide free or GMO free-products, etc.
CSR creates a reputation that the organization or company is trustworthy, reliable and honest. Great marketers have long believed and understood, if consumers think a company is honest and trustworthy e.g. Johnson & Johnson, they will also have high quality and reliable products or services.
Becoming a ‘paradigm shifter’ isn’t just about technology rather it’s about innovation that tries to find better, smarter, faster ways to enhance peoples lives, add more value, leverage technology and build new business models to deliver the ‘WOW’ factor through service and building deeper relationships of trust that embrace change. Using CSR builds integrity, enhances relationships, increases loyalty and commitment and importantly, keeps your competition away with new borders and creates a culture that emanates authenticity and character.
4. Authenticity + Equality
Customers and prospects see right through fake and phony tactics and ‘dressed up’ versions of manipulation but, if used correctly, CSR can help improve the planet, treat women as equals in pay, opportunities and putting your money were your mouth is.
For example, when Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com recently, demanded that all his female employees should be remunerated and rewarded at the same level as their male peers. As a first step, Benioff made sure that the pay scales of women were equal to those of the men at Salesforce. He’s shared his plan to get to 100% equal pay back in April, but he reiterated his position during the CNN interview, saying, “I would really like to achieve that within 12 months…we’re committed to women having the same executive roles and all possibilities for them as well.”
For what it’s worth, Salesforce’s inequality issues are not as bad as some of its peers in the tech industry. The 20 highest paid women make more than the 20 highest paid men at Salesforce, he also indicated that male employees accounted for about 71% of total workforce — slightly better than the 80% average in tech.
Salesforce isn’t the only tech company to push for gender equality, but it’s certainly one of the most vocal. For example, its “Women Surge” program is designed to ensure managers seek out female job candidates while including at least 30% women in meetings.
Picture: Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
Now that’s authenticity and commitment PLUS a great way to demonstrate – achieving women’s equality in the workplace.
Interestingly, when Marc Benioff first launched Salesforce.com back in 1999, he had three major items on his agenda:
- To create a “cloud” software delivered over the web;
- To build a subscription business model charged monthly; and
- To implement a philanthropic culture where 1% of the equity, profit, and employee time were given to charity.
Benioff firmly believes that gender equality should be one of the key performance metrics for every CEO in the country. “Just like a CEO might have a market share goal, or some other type of revenue goal or CSR goal, it has to have a metric that every CEO manages,” he recently stated.
CSR creates a positive correlation between the CSR attributes and the price of competing, or substituting. The positive aura of a brand that embraces CSR does impact the demand for the goods or services, especially in the premium end of the market because these consumers don’t mind paying a little more provided they are choosing a product with a better quality or attributes.
6. Cost Savings
One of the easiest places for a company to start engaging in sustainability is to use Big Data as a way to cut costs. Whether it’s using less packaging or less energy, these savings add up quickly. For example…
Other Fortune 500 companies support a strong role for renewables – Like Google, 223 other businesses sent a letter to the EPA, emphasizing the important role that renewables and efficiency can play in reducing emissions and saving money as part of the Clean Power Plan.
The letter was signed by 40 companies with over $100 million in annual revenues, including several Fortune 500 companies. This includes companies such as Kellogg’s, Starbucks, IKEA, Nike, Nestle, Levi Strauss and Mars that have recently made significant investments in renewables.
- Starbucks purchased more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy in 2011, and has a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2015.
- Mars recently purchased a 200 MW wind farm in Texas that will generate enough electricity to make 13 billion Snickers bars, and provide 100 percent of their power.
Picture: IKEA has rooftop solar on 89 percent of its stores, including this store in Atlanta, GA, and meets more than one-third of its electricity needs with renewable generation
7. Brand differentiation
In the past, brand differentiation was one of the primary reasons companies embraced CSR. Companies such as GE (with their Ecomagination) or Timberland were able to find their voice and incorporate the company’s values into their business model. However, as CSR has become more commonplace, using it to differentiate your brand is getting harder to do. Ecomagination is GE’s growth strategy to enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact at a global scale through commercial solutions for our customers and through our own operations.
As a part of this strategy, they are investing in cleaner technology and business innovation, developing solutions to enable economic growth while avoiding emissions and reducing water consumption, committing to reduce the environmental impact in our own operations, and developing strategic partnerships to solve some of the toughest environmental challenges at scale to create a cleaner, faster, smarter tomorrow.
Another example being the “Cola Wars” which is one of the longest running rivalries in business today. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are constantly battling for market share, and every 1% increase in market share is worth millions to stakeholders.
Yet, Pepsi and Coke both have similar, but slightly different, approaches to CSR. Coca-Cola and Pepsi both push strategies of zero net water usage and both offer water bottles made from sustainable packaging. In the end, although neither company is necessarily going to see strong differentiation benefits, I see the diminishing returns on brand differentiation as a sign that issues relating to CSR are taking hold and it’s not just a passing fad.
Bottom-line, I think Richard Branson best summarized the purpose/goals of CSR when he stated, ‘Nowadays, it’s rare that people work nine to five. We’re more connected than ever before, so many of us are working longer hours and with more commitments. With this is mind, it’s important to find and hire passionate people, who genuinely care about the business and its purpose. Purpose is no longer a buzzword. It’s a must-have. Passion and purpose will keep people focused and ultimately separate the successful from the unsuccessful.’
Disruption is ahead, nothing is surer. Please take CSR seriously, do the right thing and take action TODAY.
More About Geoff De Weaver:
Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur, technology disruptor and trend hunter behind Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. Touchpoint Entertainment Inc., the ‘next-generation’ Social Media Marketing, Big Data and Live Event Company – that streams live to over 1.5 Billion fans globally. We deliver authentic brand experiences worldwide and are specialist in social business design, innovation and digital disruption. I help brands bridge the gap between CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE.
As a Chief Executive Officer + Founder, Geoff is always on the lookout for the latest business, music and sporting trends, digital disruption, innovation and paradigm shifts and opportunities. He focuses on the latest ways to engage with people (fans); from mobile and streaming technologies, to live events, music, sports marketing, charitable events, CSR, entertainment and customer/fan experience.
Geoff has a global 25-year background of representing some of the world’s most iconic worldwide brands including: Coca Cola, IBM, IMG, P&G, Microsoft, Nike, British Airways, Wells Fargo, EA Sports, MasterCard, Shutterfly.com, EA.com, E*Trade, Nestle, Air France, AT&T, VISA, Unilever, EA.com, Ferrari, American Express, P&G, Trend Micro, Acer Computers, BMW, Shutterfly.com, Mars, Pfizer, TiVo, EarthLink Internet, American Express, Telstra and others.
- Top 0.5% Worldwide on Twitter Globally
- Top 1% Influencer on LinkedIn and 32+ million network on LinkedIn worldwide
- Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles on LinkedIn (380+ million members)
- Geoff is a Digital Pioneer, Data-Driven, Entrepreneur, Business Coach + Innovator.
- Transformative, Innovation & Digital Disruption – CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE
Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:
You might enjoy these recent posts on Pulse, LinkedIn entitled: ‘Top Ten Digital, Tech, Entertainment Trends for 2015′: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-ten-digital-tech-entertainment-trends-2015-geoff-de-weaver
AND…. ‘It’s official, the Most Powerful Voice in the “Music Industry’: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-official-most-powerful-voice-music-industry-geoff-de-weaver