Experience: how to support and improve the «green» movement in the company.
Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/27/2018 --2017 was declared the Year of Ecology in Russia. The state put issues related to environmental protection at the top of its priorities. Thanks to this initiative, an increasing number of eco-schools, eco-initiatives and eco-volunteers have started cropping up around the country, and citizens are learning more than ever about ecological and environmental issues. In other words, corporate eco-activities are now being implemented in the context of the country's general environmental policy.
Indeed, business is actually an effective tool for educating people about a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Its influence encompasses employees, their families, the local and even global community. We believe there are two main motives spurring businesses to get more environmentally involved.
1. Potential savings or profits from implementing environmental standards (for example, preserving resources at a plant, factory, etc.). In this case, "environmental tasks" = "business tasks," and the company invests in them.
2. Solving problems without a direct economic benefit, because "the Earth is our home," or for PR purposes. This is often the case with non-production companies, such as auditing agencies, law firms, IT companies, etc. There are typically good reasons why resources for environmental tasks are limited: first they need to be found.
ICL Services is an IT service company of the second type. But we are currently developing a large corporate social responsibility program including environmental initiatives, as our experience shows:
— We don't need big investments or a financial incentive to develop environmental initiatives.
— The main goal of internal environmental initiatives is to engage employees with the issue, get them interested and support their activities.
— It is enough to have green enthusiasts on staff to support continuous environmental efforts.
The history of our eco-movement
Currently, we have an entire team of green activists, including 20+ permanent participants and up to 150 volunteers taking part in various events. Everything started five years ago thanks to two employees who contacted the company's management with the following suggestions:
— organize active leisure activities for the staff, including a bike ride and trash pick-up efforts around suburban lakes, with a picnic at the end
— put battery disposal containers in offices for their subsequent proper recycling.
The company supported both suggestions: the initiatives were announced through "official" channels, and the proper organization was arranged. When other progressive employees started noticing this support, they also began suggesting ideas: planting trees and plants, collecting waste paper, clothes, plastic bottles, etc. This led to the formation of an entire group of green enthusiasts inspired by the environment, charitable intentions and exercise. The team grew steadily via word of mouth, and new colleagues started joining after several events. As the team grows, the number and diversity of environmental initiatives grows along with it.
Easier is better, or how we support and improve our "green" movement
Time management teaches us that if you're procrastinating, try to find out what you don't like about what needs to be done. Once you remove that obstacle, it is easier to complete the task. We use the same method to organize our environmental activities. Employees are happy to take part because the company makes it easy, for example:
— buying and transporting trees and tools for planting events;
— putting out boxes for waste paper collection and battery disposal in the office;
— providing transport for trips out of the city, etc.
The initiator of an environmental event is free to delegate the most difficult organizational aspects to event managers from the HR department and employees from the administrative department. All the participants have to do is turn up to the event on time.
Our volunteer efforts in 2018:
— The "Environmentally friendly lifestyle" training series was developed and held, where employees told their peers about the rules and advantages of sorting waste and demonstrated how to easily and quickly sort in their everyday lives.
— We planted perennial shrubs area around Usady, where our company's new office is located. For us, planting campaigns are already a traditional event (we choose new areas almost every time). But this year we switched to a more "minor form," and for the first time planted perennial shrubs instead of trees. This is a more flexible option in terms of implementation, and is no less beneficial for local residents.
— We also joined the all-Russian Bike to Work campaign. On that day, 50+ employees opted to commute on bikes instead of by car.
— The team organized an 85-kilometer bike ride with a "green" excursion to the Kazan Observatory for more than 70 team members. The company helped promote the event and paid for tickets. We also showed how you don't need a car even for long-distance trips.
— We also developed and released an Android app for our corporate car sharing service. This helps employees who live near each other better organize carpooling schedules for their commute. Carpooling directly reduces the number of cars on the road: this is good for the environment and helps employees save on gas.
Environmental protection is not the only area we are socially active in. We also hold a regular Donor Day, where several dozen of our team members regularly get together to donate blood and plasma in the Republican Blood Center of the Republic of Tatarstan. We also organize a collection of school supplies for students in orphanages, hold a charity fair for a local animal shelter, and more. Yet we are proud to note that our environmental initiatives attract the most participants, including the families of our employees.
Not everybody has time to participate in outdoor events. To help everyone participate, our staff activists suggested putting boxes for waste paper, plastic and old clothes in the company's offices. Their easy availability make green recycling activities the most popular, with 200+ participants every month.
— We have also been collecting batteries since 2014. When batteries end up in ordinary landfills, they contaminate the earth, water and air with toxic agents. But when batteries are disposed of in our office, we send them off for safe disposal. Some colleagues approve of this initiative so much that they even bring in batteries from relatives and friends, so that they don't throw them out with the rest of their daily garbage. For the first half of 2018, we disposed of more than 100 kg of batteries.
— PET bottles from special containers are also taken in for recycling by our administrative service. This is an excellent example of an initiative supported by the company's internal departments.
— In summer 2017, our green enthusiasts brought in containers for old clothes. We send clothes that are in good condition to environmental markets or donate them to orphanages. We take clothes that are too worn out to wear for recycling: it is more environmentally friendly to recycle clothes than to make new clothes from raw materials.
— In addition, in the summer of 2018, we held our first campaign to collect waste paper and old clothing in our offices, and all the raised funds were donated to charity.
— By the end of the year, we will also install containers for separate types of waste in the office.
It is crucial that our eco-initiatives become firmly established in the everyday lives of as many companies and local residents as possible. We need a critical mass of people who are ready to pursue these opportunities and utilizee recycling points for waste, clothing, batteries, etc. in a particular location. A single company, even a large one, can't do it alone. To succeed, eco-initiatives must be taken seriously by multiple businesses at the same time.
Intermediate result: expenses and results
ICL Services invests in its environmental activities:
— 2-4 hours working time, 1-4 employees from HR and the administrative department every week (to organize environmental events);
— 1 hour working time, 8-10 permanent members of the green team every week (for a reporting and planning meeting, monitoring of activities in the city, and the organization of events);
— incentives for eco-activists, including annual awards for the top volunteers and eco-activists of the company, distinctive signs on the corporate portal, and regular team building activities for the green group. Here we're not talking about bonuses or any financial incentives. The company does not require eco-activists to achieve commercial goals, but rather comes together with them to work together and make the world a better place;
— small expenses, if necessary (trash cans for batteries, transport trees for planting by company van, etc.).
— team bonding. Helping the world together is a powerful way to bring the company closer together. Participants are guided by non-financial motives. In fact, many of them are key experts, including experienced engineers, team-leads, sales managers and even department managers;
— bolstering corporate culture. Our eco-activities gets employees communicating more with each other, help facilitate new acquaintances with colleagues from other departments, and increase participation in corporate events;
— a ticket into the green companies club. Y-generation's numbers on the labor market are already growing, and Z-generation is on its way. Many of them would prefer working for a green company.
We support environmental and charitable initiatives because we believe that to promote environmentally friendly thinking and lifestyle at the national level, we need to start small by engaging individuals and companies like us. We like to see that we are making the world a kinder, greener and cleaner place. We lead by good example, and help inspire and motivate others to new accomplishments and initiatives.