Environmental Management vs. Social Responsibility


As a nation, we have become more aware that what we do affects the world around us; many companies have initiated some environmental initiatives. For some it’s as simple as switching off lights and computers and instituting recycling programs; for others it involves monitoring their paper, water, or energy use and then reducing or offsetting their carbon footprint--or implementing an ISO 14001 environmental management system to obtain recognition for their efforts. Most companies see significant employee interest and participation in reducing the company’s impact both internally, locally and globally. But, of course the key to good strategic environmental initiatives is to identify the programs that will not cost you more than they save in either regulatory fines or reduced waste.

How does Environmental Management differ from Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility focuses on activities that benefit society in some way. Like environmental management, there are many ways to launch such initiatives. Not all solutions mean feeding those in developing countries. Initial steps include communicating the causes you already support or raise funds for and identifying programs or services that you, or employees already sponsor--including those programs that support the needs of your employees. Creating a company culture of Social Responsibility includes periodic evaluation of existing programs to assess how to expand your company’s community impact and how those initiatives are communicated to customers and vendors so they, too, can get involved.

Is the effort really worth it?

  • Customers care – a Nielson study in 2013 found that 55% of people will spend more for services from companies with social responsibility practices.
  • Employees engage - Staff loyalty, teamwork, and morale all improve as they participate in a company which they can tell is caring and ethical; this, then, reduces turnover.
  • Stocks outperform – conscious, responsible companies outperform their competition.
Regardless of size, both programs increase employee engagement and brand perception. What’s to lose?