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Renewables on the Rise: How CSR Can Help Your Company Thrive
By admin January 29, 2019

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Modern companies are being held more and more accountable for their social responsibility policies, from huge changes like renewable energy to smaller, more accessible things, such as recycling. In all sectors of business, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a strategic tool in long-term company plans. Effective CSR programs have been proven to increase employee engagement and productivity levels, even reducing turnover rates by up to 50 percent. Cone Communications’ 2016 Study on CSR and Employee Engagement drives this point home. According to their findings, 64 percent of millennials are more likely to turn down a job if the company in question lacks strong CSR values, and 83 percent report higher loyalties to companies that help them contribute to social and environmental issues.

Global nonprofit, The Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), has named corporate reputation the number 1 driver of sustainability efforts in 2018, with companies increasingly turning to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for their CSR programs. SDG 7 is key here, as it advocates for affordable and clean energy, as well as the production of renewable energy globally. Given the social influence that corporate companies have, implementing green energy into CSR programs can have tangible benefits for all parties involved. In the US, solar energy alone has seen a 168 percent increase in its workforce in the past seven years and is responsible for over 250,000 jobs in 2017 (compared to 93,000 in 2010). The solar sector continues to show significant long-term growth, despite a slight decrease in jobs this year, and is progressing the US towards energy independence. Solar energy has also reached grid price parity, making it competitive with fossil fuel energy as the second-cheapest energy source behind wind. In this way it is easy to see why a trend of switching to renewables has developed in the business world in recent years, as social benefits are supplemented with economic advantage, making it an efficient change on all fronts.

Additionally, the lowest-cost source for power generation worldwide is onshore wind energy, with grid price parity having been reached in China, the US, Germany, India, Spain, France, Brazil, the UK and Canada. Since these renewable forms of energy have not been as costly to integrate as initially anticipated, they are becoming an increasingly reliable source of power in grid performance, as seen in Germany and Denmark, who currently hold the two most reliable grids worldwide, with 90 percent of their power produced by wind and solar energy. Beyond these countries, wind and solar price parity remains a realistic vision, as cost gaps are widening between these and conventional sources of energy. This highlights yet another benefit of renewable energy in CSR programs, as the more impact that alternative energy has for businesses in the developed world, the more likely the technologies are to spread to developing countries. In fact, the 2018 Deloitte Insights on Global Energy Trends confirms this, reporting that not only will this drive down global average energy costs by raising capacity factors, but that through partnerships between international organizations and global developers, companies in developing countries will have much easier access to the benefits of renewable energy.

However, until this goal of clean energy can be fully realized, companies are finding that even small, eco-friendly changes can have an equally friendly impact on their profit margins. For example, recent estimates from Walmart have shown that by switching to LED light-bulbs in their parking lots, the company has saved hundreds of millions in energy costs annually. Other even smaller changes that can businesses can make include: optimizing HVAC systems, going paperless and simply introducing roles that utilize telecommuting. In this way, CSR policies not only promote sustainable practices, but can be used to produce more cost-effective company outputs, and increase employee satisfaction at the same time, highlighting their value to both business and society.

 

For more information:

BSR State of Sustainable Business 2018

Cone Communications’ 2016 Study on CSR and Employee Engagement

Engaging Employees in Corporate Responsibility Is a Brilliant Strategy

Global Renewable Energy Trends – Deloitte Insights

Satell Institute CSR Insights

Solar Foundation Census Infographic

What’s Sustainability Got To Do With It? – Nielsen Report


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