I want to highlight those who are showing the way. There is a majority in the spa world still who have nothing to say on the topic of sustainability (including environmental and social responsibility) and others who talk the talk but may not be walking the walk.
If you count yourself or your business among those with the courage and foresight to be taking this lead, or know of anyone who you believe is, please contact me.
Help from the top down
On Change.org, Nathaniel Whittemore's post 'Obama's Call for Corporate Citizenship' (January 27, 2009) discussed a recent article by Bradley Googins (Executive Director, Boston Center for Corporate Citizenship), and initiated some valuable commentary.
Martin Smith (CEO of JustMeans.com) said:
I think that new government regulation will increase the opportunities for corporations to respond to emerging social and environmental threats. I also think that we are entering a time when globally, all private goods will become common goods. As a result, those companies that do not mitigate their negative externalities will increasing face litigation from consumer groups, active citizens, and governments.
what concerns me far more than large companies that are talking about corporate responsibility is the tens of thousands of small to medium enterprises that are not. These non-consumer facing companies have fewer levers for change.
Corporate citizenship, socially responsible business, whatever you want to call it, is a key element in the future of social change.
What this suggests to me, is that the luxury market that is so much the focus of many aspiring spa owners and spa product vendors, can make only the smallest of differences right now. It is a drop in the ocean of need that is swelling up around issues of sustainability.
One thing the larger businesses espousing CSR might consider is sharing not only their values through their example, but also donating a portion of their knowledge and skills to those smaller concerns who do not feel they can afford the shift to a more sustainable way of doing business.
This might mean, within their own business arena, in this case spa products and services:
- supporting regulation, but not as a means of pushing others off the playing field
- investing in research that benefits all, not just in service of their own profits
- encouraging through whatever means available, the widespread adoption of sustainable systems
Ethically produced goods
This recent report, posted on the Center for Corporate Citizenship website, emphasizes again the power of the consumer and that it is indeed being wielded. There are more and more ethical watchdogs out there, and greater and greater demand for transparency on the part of companies. Lack of transparency hints at something to hide.
Consumers say they like the idea of purchasing ethically produced goods. But will they pay more for them? And if so, how much more?
These are the questions posed by Remi Trudel and June Cotte, who summarize their research in the Winter 2009 issue of MIT’s Sloan Management Review. They conducted a series of experiments that they say proved these things:
- Yes, customers will pay a premium for ethically produced goods.
- Conversely, they will punish companies (by demanding a lower price) that are not seen as ethical.
- The punishment exacted is greater than the premium customers are willing to pay.
- Companies needn’t be 100% ethical to be rewarded.
Read the full story here.
[Addendum: A post just in 5 Feb. 2009 from Environmental Leader says this ...
Four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services today - which sometimes cost more - even in the midst of a U.S. recession, according to a new study commissioned by Green Seal and EnviroMedia Social Marketing.
Means to an end
And finally, a note about JustMeans which would seem to be a good starting point for anyone serious about any of the topics below. I just joined. How about you?
From their 'About' page
is a world where companies integrate social and environmental initiatives into their core business strategies.
We Believe ...
1. This will require widespread innovation and creativity in approaching and developing new business processes.
2. Fostering innovation and creativity requires open, honest debate.
Our Mission ...
is to provide best in class services that help companies communicate and implement their socially responsible efforts on-line.
In fulfilling our mission, we hope to ...
1. Help organizations identify, assess, and respond to challenges, risks, and opportunities that arise from current business processes.
2. Help individuals realize their voice in shaping their communities.
3. Grow the market for products and services that mirror the best values of humanity.
Related posts: Green marketing: aspiring to a dream after deflating a myth