The report, The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms, assessed the overall cost of federal regulation on small businesses in five major sectors of the U.S. economy. According to the post, Small Businesses Are Hit Harder by Regulations, “the report showed that costs are particularly disproportionate in the manufacturing sector. Small manufacturers’ compliance costs per employee are more than double the costs for midsized and large firms. What specific types of regulations are the most costly? Compliance with environmental regulations costs nearly four times as much in small businesses than in large ones, while the cost of tax compliance is more than twice as high in small firms than in large ones.”
While those are known cost, within our sustainability consulting, it is not uncommon to interface with business leaders who are unaware of the potential cost and business risk they may be incurring though misunderstanding or inactivity related to business sustainability. The post, Supplies in the Hot Sear: Are you One of them addresses the extended responsibilities of water, carbon, environment management to suppliers in larger supply chains.
While many organizations recognize the ‘softer’ value of sustainability generated by some of the more well known leading companies, few fail to acknowledge the risk of their own inactivity to the bottom line:
• Increase cost from uncontrolled emissions.
• Increase cost from measure waste streams.
• Increase cost from rising energy and uncontrolled consumption.
• Increased cost in supply and distribution.
• Increased cost in from the use of unsustainable materials.
• Increase cost from tax or regulatory changes.
• Increase in cost from reactive design, engineering and manufacturing changes.
• Increased cost from obsolete supply or product.
Business sustainability is often reduced to environmental or social action. While certainly two very important areas of focus, business sustainability is really about taking action to maintain the on-going health and profitability of the company as a business strategy. This includes valuing the relationship with the environment and social stakeholders.
By recognizing and taking decisive action, small business and entrepreneurs are creating a competitive advantage over traditional competition and avoiding being side swiped by hidden risks. Our sustainability consulting interfaces with businesses seeking to capture the value from business sustainability opportunities.
The following post is an interview with Karen Baker, Secretary of Service and Volunteering, State of California. Karen Baker will be a featured speaker at the BoardSource Leadership Forum, being held November 10-11 in San Francisco. For more information on the BoardSource Leadership Forum, visit http://www.boardsource.org/blf
Karen Baker, the nation’s first state cabinet secretary for service and volunteering, discusses with Board Member why and how her state office finds and engages younger generations in governance.
Board Member: What is your board’s composition in terms of diversity?
Secretary Karen Baker: CaliforniaVolunteers has a 25-member, governor-appointed commission. Currently, there are six vacancies. From our vantage point, it’s important that the demographics of the state are reflected in the demographics of our board. We’ve done an outstanding job in the ethnicity arena; we’ll continue to address age diversity with the vacancies. For example, we have a dedicated youth board member position that we’re recruiting for [CaliforniaVolunteers defines "youth" as someone between 18 and 25 years of age]. You get a very different voice at the table when you’ve got members who are under 25 or even under 40.
Board Member: Should a board reflect the organization’s constituency?
Secretary Karen Baker: That depends. Boards need to ask themselves whether it is more important that their decisions be informed by those served by the organization or be reflective of the community in which the organization is located, ensuring, of course, that they have good avenues for getting constituent feedback.
I used to run a homeless agency. If the board had comprised all formerly homeless people, it’s unlikely that we would have been able to raise the necessary funds or have the political wins we had. We did have advisory committees that were composed of solely our client base. You have to be thoughtful about the strategy behind your board building.
Board Member: Returning to that “different voice” you mentioned earlier, what value do younger members add to your board?
From Glenn Croston’s Fast Company blog:
Small businesses have the power to get our economy moving again, creating jobs and real growth, but they continue finding credit difficult to come by, or shy away for fear of hidden traps. Congress hopes that the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 may help, but getting credit remains challenging for small businesses, and those that do find credit often make costly mistakes. Green businesses are no exception to these challenges. Done correctly though credit is your friend, getting you and your business where you want to go. Despite all of the difficulty, small businesses and startups can build their credit right by working with people like La Mancha Sims and his company Corporate Cash.
As an experienced financial professional and a business man himself, Sims knows the challenges that his clients face, and has learned from experience how to avoid common mistakes, saving people a great deal of time, money and heartache. Corporate Cash works with small businesses and startups, particularly those that have been around less than 3 years, providing not just access to credit but personal coaching and counseling to build a relationship with clients and guide them through the whole process. When people come to him for help they have often tried and failed to develop their credit profile on their own, and he finds they have made the same common mistakes. By building relationships with lenders, and working personally with clients to deliver solutions, Sims can walk them through 5 steps they need to follow to build their credit and their business:
In the land of business start-ups, a common success story looks like this: entrepreneur comes up with amazing new idea. Entrepreneur cobbles a start-up business around said idea. Idea spreads like wildfire. Entrepreneur sells business to huge, well-established company.
What might this model look like from the non-profit perspective?
A small non-profit organization called The Breast Form Fund may be able to give us some insight.
When you own a lingerie store, you see all types of women, including women living with breast cancer and trying to maintain their sense of beauty and self-assurance after surgery. In Judith Fine’s experience, prostheses and post-mastectomy bras do wonders for these women.
For many years, Judith and her store, Gazebo, relied on a fund from the American Cancer Society to help un- and under-insured women obtain these products. When the fund went away, Judith made a decision to replace as much of the funding as she could. A percentage of Gazebo’s sales went into a new fund that spun off into a separate non-profit organization, The Breast Form Fund. Judith stepped in as the Executive Director.
Within our sustainability consulting practice, we find that integrating sustainability concepts into core business functions makes companies more nimble in a fast-changing world. It also makes a business’s brands more attractive to consumers and its executive management more respected by employees, regulators and the financial markets. In short, the drivers for improved business sustainability equate to improved performance and cost savings.
Why not capitalize on the competitive advantage now and jump start your 2011 planning with the following sustainable business strategies? By integrating sustainability concepts into the business, you are positively impacting the environment and generating bright business ideas for the year ahead.
- Office Energy Consumption – Evaluate the average energy use per square foot of office space and implementing best practices to reduce: energy consumption studies, efficiency practices, equipment modifications, etc.
- Employee Commuting – Offer employees incentives to ride public transportation or participate in car/van pooling. Consider a bike commuting program.
- Employee Telecommuting – Reduced office space and transportation as a potential win-win-win practice for businesses, employees, and the environment.
- Sustainable Design – Consider materials selection, energy consumption, manufacturing, product use and operation, and final disposition, early in the product development process.
- Water Conservation – Manage water entering the company and look for opportunities to reuse water.
- Management Systems – Raise eco awareness and company commitment through established sustainability policies, standards, metrics, and self audits.
- Environmental Philanthropy – Beyond just corporate volunteering efforts provide access to technology, engineering support, information and research that benefits the local community and the environment.
- Packaging – Focus on using as little packaging material as needed and making packaging as recyclable as possible.
- Pollution Prevention – Keep attention on both source control and waste reduction
- Recycling and Waste Reduction – Anywhere there is a trash can, there should be a recycling bin.
- Resource Conservation – Consider material and energy consumption across the entire value chain…reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Printing Less – Paper makes up about 35% of a typical company’s total waste stream
- Go Digital – Reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly by using electronic signatures.
- Sustainable Partnering – A key aspect of business sustainability is making sure that you manage your supply chain and partner with companies with similar values.
- Sustainable Education and Development – There is always more you can do to make your business more sustainable. Encourage education and innovation within the organization.
Through observation and working with clients, we have come to learn that the sustainable leaders of today are anticipating and taking proactive steps to address change in the business world. At Taiga Company, our sustainability consulting encourages clients to create a competitive advantage by building sustainability concepts and continuous improvement directly into the company’s business model.
I recently experienced a missed brand-building opportunity at Staples when I tried to salvage some files from a defunct computer. What happened was a great example of how companies need to make their social contributions clear and actively partner with their customers for even greater impact.
I took an IBM desktop circa 1997 (!) with a frozen hard drive and forgotten passwords to the Tech Services Desk at my local Staples, where I had a GREAT customer experience – the staff was thorough and the job got done quickly for a reasonable price. I would definitely go back and this transaction helped evolve how I thought about the Staples brand (solutions provider for my life vs. seller of pens and paper).
The missed brand-building opportunity came when the tech offered to recycle my computer. Terrific – computers should definitely not end up in landfills. Just one catch: It would cost me $10. I experienced a moment of consumer confusion – it wasn’t clear if Staples was making money off me, breaking even or picking up part of the tab. I ended up walking out with my old IBM, feeling skeptical about Staples’ green effort and figuring I could find a way to junk it responsibly that wouldn’t cost me $10. This ambivalence was cemented when I discovered my town has a program where I could recycle my computer for free (Staples’ website explains that a “recycling fee is charged to cover handling, transport, product disassembly and recycling”).
I applaud Staples’ effort to reduce the environmental impact of technology obsolescence. But here’s the miss: Staples had a chance to cement my loyalty by wrapping a successful, well-executed business transaction in a successful corporate responsibility experience. They missed an opportunity to partner with me to fulfill broader responsibilities vs. simply charging for a service. My good opinion of Staples might have been solidified if they had followed up the offer to recycle with an overture to partner – and put some skin in the game by offering to help me defray the cost of recycling somehow, either through cash, in-store credit, or even a coupon for future use back in their store.
Lesson learned: At a time when consumer expectations are higher than ever, and more and more brands are linking themselves to social causes, it is critical for companies to be fully transparent about the contribution they are making and to approach their customers as genuine partners.
- Craig Bida, Executive Vice President
Coupling supply chain best practices with business sustainability strategies, many companies are opening the door to improved consistency and reliability of supply. The question is, “how?’
To begin, start with a “systems thinking” approach. The post, A Green Supply Chain Takes a Systems Thinking Approach–And Patience suggests by viewing the supply chain in a systematic or holistic manner, “organizations can apply that “big-picture thinking” needed to be truly innovative. Doing so can create leverage points that companies never realized they had before with their suppliers”.
Applying systems thinking through implementation, our sustainability consulting suggests keeping with sustainable supply chain best practices.
• Supply Chain Alignment – Evaluating business needs, market conditions, and sustainability value drivers (research / benchmarking) to improve supplier relationships or initiating sourcing.
• Procurement Guidelines and Policies – Improving sustainable material selection and supplier manufacturing processes as part of supplier selection criteria.
• Supply Performance Tracking – Establishing key supplier performance metrics to ensure continuous alignment with sustainability targets.
• Supply Chain Efficiency – Reducing inventory levels on non-critical supply resulting in lower carrying cost, waste and material obsolescence across the entire supply chain.
• Sustainable Logistics and Distribution – Refining transportation modes to make significant environmental and social impact reductions.
By adopting a systems thinking approach combined with supply chain best practices, companies can proactively address supply stability and quality issues from a different perspective. Our professional consulting works with clients to build a long term business sustainability plan that identifies and cultivates critical touch points in the supply chain.
A few days after the mine accident in Chile, which trapped 33 men 2000 feet below the earth, ourSodexo Chile team mobilized all its capabilities and experience to deliver a requirement of every rescue worker – food. Our teammates in Chile worked tirelessly to come up with a creative way to feed warm, nutritious meals to almost 300 people working 24 hours a day on the rescue effort. Our own Sodexo heroes were able to come up with the means necessary to move the required supplies and food from Santiago, the Capital of Chile, all the way to the rescue site, about 560 miles away. dozen of Sodexo’s people worked daily in this operation, who with great dedication and professionalism, ensured that nothing was lacking to those working in the rescue of 33 miners. Sodexo began “feeding hope” on August 16th. At that time we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Six days later, on August 22nd, an incredible piece of good news filled the camp – all 33 miners were alive. The message out of the shaft: “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” — – Translated, “All 33 of us are well inside the shelter.” We were so inspired day after day up to and including the moment each miner brought to the surface alive and well. In almost two months of volunteer work, and in coordination with the authorities, Sodexo distributed more than 50,000 thousand meals, equivalent to 40 tons of food to rescuers, authorities, police and army forces, among other representatives. We at Sodexo offered the donation of food and services to the local Government, because we realize during events such as these, we become one united people, all hoping for the same outcome. We had the means and the supplies, so we considered our involvement just part of our commitment as good corporate citizens. We are incredibly happy to see this mission of hope turn into a celebration of joy. Janet Awad is director general of Sodexo operations in Chile. -This entry is from Sodexo’s blog page.
A few days after the mine accident in Chile, which trapped 33 men 2000 feet below the earth, ourSodexo Chile team mobilized all its capabilities and experience to deliver a requirement of every rescue worker – food.
Our teammates in Chile worked tirelessly to come up with a creative way to feed warm, nutritious meals to almost 300 people working 24 hours a day on the rescue effort. Our own Sodexo heroes were able to come up with the means necessary to move the required supplies and food from Santiago, the Capital of Chile, all the way to the rescue site, about 560 miles away.
dozen of Sodexo’s people worked daily in this operation, who with great dedication and professionalism, ensured that nothing was lacking to those working in the rescue of 33 miners.
Sodexo began “feeding hope” on August 16th. At that time we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Six days later, on August 22nd, an incredible piece of good news filled the camp – all 33 miners were alive. The message out of the shaft: “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33” — – Translated, “All 33 of us are well inside the shelter.” We were so inspired day after day up to and including the moment each miner brought to the surface alive and well.
In almost two months of volunteer work, and in coordination with the authorities, Sodexo distributed more than 50,000 thousand meals, equivalent to 40 tons of food to rescuers, authorities, police and army forces, among other representatives.
We at Sodexo offered the donation of food and services to the local Government, because we realize during events such as these, we become one united people, all hoping for the same outcome. We had the means and the supplies, so we considered our involvement just part of our commitment as good corporate citizens. We are incredibly happy to see this mission of hope turn into a celebration of joy.
Janet Awad is director general of Sodexo operations in Chile.
-This entry is from Sodexo’s blog page.
From Glenn Croston’s Fast Company blog.
Solving climate change is a big challenge that will require cooperation and innovation on a global scale. Tokyo startup Fullcircle Innovations is taking on this challenge with its offerings at GreenITers.com and EcoAppsFree.com. The rapidly growing on-line community at GreenITers is bringing people together from around the globe to help build solutions, and with EcoAppsFree.com they are taking the fight right to your smart phone, but Fullcircle Innovations isn’t stopping there. Their vision is not just about products, but taking things to the next level of sustainability from CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to CSR 2.0. As a finalist for the Red Herring 100 Asia prize, Fullcircle Innovations may get the boost they need to have the global impact they envision.
The Red Herring 100 Asia prize seeks to identify promising startups with the innovation and entrepreneurship that will drive disruptive technologies of the future. Past winners include Google, Yahoo!, and YouTube. The disruptive technology that Fullcircle Innovations is bringing to bear is designed not just to make money, but to make a difference in the environmental challenges our planet faces.
Time is short, and the challenges huge. The United Nations warned this week at the Convention on Biological Diversity that the world must act now to prevent mass extinctions. The tipping point to prevent the worst case scenario for climate change may be near. Fullcircle Innovations is working to implement the solutions laid by Thomas Friedman in his book Hot, Flat and Crowded: take action today, save what biodiversity we have left, and speed innovations and education for the next generation.
To do this, Flavio Souza, Fullcircle Innovations founder and CEO, envisions the green business world moving to CSR 2.0, in which individuals take responsibility (R) for the work to be done, and group together in social networks (S) of like-minded people who work together to find solutions. The best ideas and innovations from groups like this can be advanced in the corporate world (C) to deliver real solutions, moving from thought to action.