Why would a tech company plant trees?

Why would a tech company plant trees?

From time to time we all hear news like “XYZ” Company visited orphanages, or planted trees, or cleaned beach from litter, or invested to a university or participated in charity events. Have you ever wondered, why?

In this article, I will be talking about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of organizations.

First, let’s take a look at short description of CSR, which is, an organization’s self-regulated actions to benefit society or the environment beyond what is required by law, or commitment by organizations to behave ethically and contribute to economic development, improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large.

There are of course many other similar descriptions of CSR on many business books.

Triple Bottom line.

When talking about CSR activities, we definitely need to mention about the concept called Triple Bottom Line, which was developed by British author and entrepreneur John Elkington who is world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development.

The Triple Bottom Line is a concept that encourages the assessment of overall business performance based on three important areas: People, Profit and the Planet.

Triple Bottom Line

Those areas: social measures, such as employee training, health and safety and contributions to the local community; economic measures of performance such as sales, profits and share price; and finally, environmental measures such as pollution, recycling and wastage targets, reforestation and restoration of natural harm done.

The concept of Triple Bottom Line demands that a company's responsibility lies with stakeholders rather than shareholders.

All businesses must make money. Imagine a business, which has great performance, generates great profits, but at the same time, its plants pollute the air and the land, poisons rivers and creates lots of health issues for people and animals. In other words, destroys the planet.

Can a business be sustainable, where there is no clean air or clean water? Without people, can there be economy? Of course not.

Companies adhering to Triple Bottom Line concept realize that they can do more, they understand that, sustainability is the future. 

Why would a tech company plant trees?

Michael Porter with coauthor Mark Kramer, wrote a Harvard Business Review article about Corporate Social Responsibility in 2006. On the article the authors rely on the premise that business needs a healthy society because only a healthy society can produce a productive workforce.

What are the benefits of CSR activities to an organization?

Beyond its benefits to the stakeholders and the environment, CSR activities help create positive image and reputation for organizations and increasingly affect employee job satisfaction.

For most organizations, a good reputation in the eyes of customers and suppliers is important for long-term financial success.

Also, workers are more attracted to firms with a reputation for social responsibility. Let’s do not forget that, today organizations depend a lot on their talented employees. As the labor market is tight, companies are in a competition to attract the best talent. Today, companies do not choose A players, but A players chose the companies. High salaries and generous benefit packages is not enough for attracting talent. Employees want challenging work, along with awareness, company image and employer image. Through CSR activities organizations build positive image for themselves which is in the end for their own benefit.

As Head of HR of a large organization I have led and participated in many CSR activities and experienced its value and outcomes, to the society, to the environment and to the organization itself.  Our CSR activities included helping people in need, developing skills and then hiring people with disabilities, lots of educational programs with other reputable organizations in Azerbaijan (such as ASAN service and universities), involving students and fresh graduates to internship programs, organizing trips to production fields, trainings and career events for job seekers, blood donation campaigns (we had 14 blood donation campaigns during 2019), charities, recycling and many others.

One of the education programs we were sponsoring had 50 fresh gradates participating, as a result of the program 38 of the participants were hired by various organizations and many of them started their own startups. This is something to be proud of.

Several years ago, we initiated internship programs for students and fresh graduates in our HR Department. They first participated at 3 months paid internship programs which included trainings and mentorships. Since then, as a result 15 interns got hired and started their HR Careers within our HR Department and we are proud that now most of them are leading their HR careers successfully not only within our organization, but at various other organizations.

Currently I am participating at a 6 - months education program at ADA university (which is one of the most reputable universities in Azerbaijan). The program is called Adaptive Strategic Execution Program and in Partnership with ADA and Duke Corporate Education. Participants of the program are mostly executives from public and private sector. The program is sponsored by BP Azerbaijan.

Only a few of the participants are actually employed by BP Azerbaijan, me and many other participants are not employees of BP Azerbaijan and have no direct connection with the Company.

But, it is a great CSR example and it is great contribution to the labor market. I am sure although not directly, but indirectly, it will have its benefits coming back to them.

In the end, my advice to the organizations would be to increase their CSR activities, make it one of their strategic goals as being beneficial to all the stakeholders and the environment, even make it one of the main criteria when reviewing the performance of the units or individuals.

Start with small projects and you will see how it increases team spirit and morale along with other benefits. Be a good corporate citizen.

Make these activities public, set the pace, be a good example, let other organizations and even your competitors to take lessons from it. You will soon see, they will also start such activities.

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