Publication Date

5-2007

Abstract

Much has been written about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the past 20 years. Businesses have adopted mission statements as a routine part of their public and employee rela-tions. Some business go further and offer a set of “core values” to flesh out their mission state-ments. While researching examples of mission statements and core value bulletpoints, I have found them to be vague and ridden with clichés. Businesses talk about “giving back to the com-munity”, “holding ourselves to high ethical standards”, “committed to our people”, and “encour-aging environmental awareness.” Some businesses comply with their statements of mission and sets of core values; others feel compelled to use these tools as mere public relations and market-ing schemes. There is a term for this, it is called “greenwashing”.

In the past 5 years there has been a growing realization in business that global climate change will have an impact on the bottom line. One of the first industries to address global cli-mate change has been the insurance industry. Who stands to loose more than insurance compa-nies as the earth violently reacts to “business as usual” energy consumption and emissions?

There now exist think tanks, non-profits, and professional organizations helping large corporations struggling in ways to reduce their carbon emissions. One example is Ceres, a coali-tion of investors, environmental organizations, and interest groups that help corporations to strengthen their environmental and social programs. To contract an organization like Ceres is both a time consuming and expensive endeavor, out of reach for most small business owners.

As a result of my research, a question emerged: “What is the power of a small business to adapt to or mitigate global climate change?” Secondarily, “Can a climate change policy be ad-dressed through an existing corporate socially responsible framework? If so, how?”

This paper will explore these and other questions by studying the CSR practices of The Works Bakery Café (The Works), a regional bagel and sandwich enterprise with five regional New England locations.

The methodology I employed is based upon internal and external surveys of The Works employees and customers. Were customers willing to buy food items made from locally grown or processed ingredients? For a business, buying local shortens the supply chain, thus reducing carbon admissions. The answer to this question has been a resounding yes, as proven by the ex-periment of marketing a local ingredient sandwich at one of The Works’ locations.

It is my intention to offer practical, creative, and low cost business applications for small businesses. Furthermore, I will make the case that addressing global climate change is a “social responsibility” of business. I will also offer advise on how a business can incorporate global cli-mate responsibility under their existing CSR framework.

Disciplines

Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations

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