By Erick Fabian
The Alliance of Business and Environmental Practices
THE popularity of the 2006 award-winning documentary film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has challenged the way modern business is conducted these days. The film presented proof that so many business and industry practices since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s have contributed to environmental degradation, mostly through factories and processing plants that contribute to pollution.
In this light, business practices have been adjusted by many practitioners so that it is in keeping with the mandate to protect the environment. Enlightened business owners have realized that neglecting the environment can have disastrous effects on their business in the long run. It only makes sense to comply to ecological measures. The environment being the source of raw materials that manufacturing industries need, depletion of natural resources only means disastrous consequences.
The social pressure for businesses to engage in more ecologically-sound practices is especially aimed at big companies that derive their revenue from extraction and processing, such as petroleum companies. In the case of Chevron, a common target of environmental groups, it means evaluating oil processing practices so as to lessen their environmental impact, and exploring alternative energy sources to run their drilling equipment. The company, according to their 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report, is also expanding their pro-ecology portfolio by funding the preservation of endangered species, and contributing to community development efforts that help preserve the gifts of nature.
The emergence of corporate social responsibility ethics has further reinforced the idea that successful companies should be environmentally conscious. This is because practices that have an impact on the environment also affect the ecosystems and the communities that rely on it to survive.
To lessen the negative effects, companies are encouraged to invest in technologies and research that will be beneficial for both business and the planet. After all, it is logical to take care of the source of one’s profits, as there will be no source for raw materials if natural resources are depleted. Investing in the environment is beneficial in the bigger scheme of things, and it also builds on public goodwill. Corporations are now aware that bad publicity due to environmental negligence means losing customers and clients. Companies are now being made aware that there is a humanity perspective to doing good business.
Critics of corporate social responsibility, like Milton Friedman, argue that companies are only responsible for shareholders and in making the business as profitable as it could be. Such a view misses the point entirely. For businesses to succeed, an entrepreneur needs to improve social relations. Consumers and clients are people who belong in a society. Customers are human beings with families, friends, and loved ones. If a product or service proves to be hazardous to one’s health, and once people see how immediate its effects are, the company only serves to lose more if it doesn’t do anything to make their products or services more earth-friendly.
Being a green business is actually good for market competition; just ask the CEOs of companies such as Body Shop and Honda. People are now more informed about their consumption choices, and are more aware that their purchasing practices can impact the environment. Green businesses can actually outpace their non-green competitors on so many fronts. No decent consumer and client wants to be associated with companies that contribute to pollution and environmental degradation. As more companies are re-evaluating and renovating to become green, the pressure from both society and the business industry to become eco-friendly is mounting, and any business that seeks to become sustainable would take action so as not to be left behind.
Also, being a green business makes a company’s products and services distinct, and encourages innovations that will prove to be both profitable and beneficial to society as a whole. Public goodwill is a necessity for businesses to thrive in the information age, as any ecological atrocity can be quickly picked up and publicized, and before you know it, the company starts to losing customers to competitors who are more into sustainable development.
We can say that companies are now required to be more socially responsible than in decades past. Part of being responsible for one’s actions means investing in efforts to make green living part of business practice. It is a simple principle of give and take. Nature gives the raw materials, and companies need to give back to nature. Even if a company does not directly engage in extraction, manufacturing or processing, it still relies on those that do, and still uses natural resources such as water and land. Paper and plastic products are made from trees and petroleum, respectively, and electronic parts are made from minerals and chemicals that needed to be mined in order to obtain.
To be a green company is to eventually save money and unnecessary expenses, and it is forward-looking. Even academic institutions are now doing studies in ecological business practices, to ensure that the next generation of aspiring business people are environmentally-conscious. One need not look far to see that business and ecology are allies. After all, what will all that profit do if the world is not fit place to live in anymore?