Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s become a sort of buzz-word among business folks these days, and it’s easy to overlook it as a ‘nice-to-do’ at year-end, or even as a marketing ploy to generate some of that good Brand karma.
But it’s about so much more than fitting in on social media.
Emily De Sousa is a self-proclaimed Canadian Beach Bum on a mission to explore the earth while trying to save it at the same time. Her sustainable travel blog, Airplanes & Avocados, follows her journey on that mission and documents her adventures, showing us how we can make small changes to help conserve our oceans for generations to come.
Why should you care: we face fishless oceans by 2050 (yes, really).
Oceans don’t have to be your cause. We encourage all organizations, of all sizes, to help a cause they care about – whether it’s ocean conservation, poverty alleviation, animal welfare, or something else entirely. What matters is that together we can actually make a difference.
We chatted with Emily to find out how she became an environmental activist, and asked her for tips on how your organization can take small steps to start getting involved in your chosen cause.
Nikki: How did you become involved in environmental activism?
Emily: I got involved in environmental activism entirely by accident. I took a year off of school in between high school and university to travel because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career-wise. This was one of my first true travel experiences so it was eye-opening for several reasons, but most notably because many of the destinations that I was visiting looked very different in person than they had in pictures. I quickly learned that this was because of climate change and human impact. I was so upset that all these beautiful places were being destroyed right before my eyes; I felt as though I had been cheated out of experiencing much of the beauty that this planet has to offer. So I decided to try and stop it.
N: Why did you feel it was important to stand up for this cause in particular?
E: The thought of my children never knowing what the Great Barrier Reef looks like or being able to climb Machu Picchu really inspired me to fight to try and save these places. Additionally, as I’ve gotten deeper into environmental research and learned about the importance of maintaining a healthy planet, I’ve realized we really have no other choice. If we don’t work to save our oceans and protect our environment, the human race cannot survive.
N: Why is it important for companies to find a cause they are passionate about and get involved?
E: I really think there needs to be a bigger picture than just the bottom line. At the end of the day, companies and corporations are just people, and I believe people should be living for something more than a paycheque. Life is far too short to be living without passion, so I encourage companies to find something that they’re passionate about and get behind it. Your employees will appreciate it, you’ll attract even more potential employees who want to work with civic-minded companies, and your community will appreciate your efforts to improve their society.
Companies have a ton of influence and can be the surrogate of inspiration for real change. I think it’s important for companies to leverage this influence and encourage community members to take action for causes that they’re passionate about. Getting involved has immense benefits for the company itself too: better brand recognition, improved business reputation, and increased customer loyalty.
N: Once they’ve chosen a cause, where does a company start?
E: Some of the easiest ways for companies to start getting involved is through volunteering or serving on the board of a cause. Many organizations and charities also host events in which businesses can participate; for example, the World Wildlife Fund’s CN Tower Climb. Not only is this a great way to support a cause, but it’s a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with colleagues. Donating your time and expertise is a highly valuable way to get involved and have an impact.
N: How can they take Corporate Social Responsibility a step further?
E: Quite simply, Corporate Social Responsibility just means doing the right thing. It can be something as small as removing straws from your office lunch room to limit your company’s environmental impact, or making large monetary donations to non-profit organizations. If you’re thinking about getting involved with corporate social responsibility, it starts with ensuring your company’s values align with your moral compass. If they don’t, try to do some readjusting until you get to a point where you feel good about the work you’re doing.