In recent times, the consciousness among business leaders towards sustainable goals is taking centerstage. Businesses worldwide are committing towards taking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities very seriously and proactively participating in bringing change that contributes to social and environmental issues. The benefits of CSR speak volumes for corporates. From increasing brand awareness among the eco-conscious consumers to gaining a competitive edge in the market, embracing CSR goals is today's number one priority for the companies. Many top brands like ITC, Bajaj Finance Limited, and Godrej have been driving active initiatives towards socio-economic welfare and women empowerment programs.
One significant establishment lies in the fact that women leaders are not just leading people relationship skills, but are also taking pro-active steps towards bringing value to CSR activities.
Role of Women in Achieving CSR Goals
Riding on the sustainability wave successfully, retail companies have seen a huge surge in the participation and emancipation of thoughtful, proactive women leaders climbing up the corporate ladder. Women leaders driving CSR are emerging as a strong driver of positive, sustainable practices in the business world. According to a report by WomenRising2030- Better Leadership, Better World, gender equality in the workplace can help unlock more than $12trillion in new market value linked to the UN sustainable development goals. Several recent reports have also proved that women leaders tend to be actively responsible for growing their company's CSR goals. A study by Net Impact found that 60% of employed women believed it was essential to work for a company that prioritises social and environmental responsibility.
Let us take a brief look at a few women leaders driving CSR initiatives at their respective firms.
Key Women Leaders Driving CSR initiatives
Jessica Sansom, Former Head of Sustainability for Innocent Drinks
Initiative – Sustainable Capitalism Model
Jessica Sansom is a key leader in building sustainable goals for the UK's top smoothie brand. She is also a role model for improving water waste management. Her initiative towards ethical purchasing, sustainable and recycled packaging, and resource efficiency has helped build a long-term sustainable effort for the business. Jessica was responsible for the company's sustainable capitalism model.
As a successful outcome of this initiative, Innocent Drinks has significantly contributed towards saving the environment and has also been nominated for its work in recycled packaging by several world-acclaimed environmental committees. The company also launched its first 100% post-consumer recycled bottle, setting an example for others to recycle, upcycle, and reuse.
Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of the innovation accelerator for Nike
Initiative – 2018 World Cup Eco Football Kits
Hannah Jones has been one of the top drivers shaping the fashion industry. With more than 20 years expertise, she has helped transform the brand into a global sustainable innovation leader. Under the leadership of Hannah, the company set an example for CSR initiatives around the world when each Nike-sponsored football team kit in the 2018 world cup was made of recycled plastic bottles.
As a follow-up of this initiative and taking motivation from it, 75% of Nike shoes and apparel now contain recycled material. Over the years, more than three billion plastic bottles have been recycled to be used for Nike's performance products. The company's ColorDry technology, which dyes fabric using zero water, has successfully saved more than 20 million litres of water, championing the cause of water management.
Stella McCartney, Fashion Designer, Own line of collection
Initiative – Cruelty-free and Ethical Fashion Products
Celebrity fashion designer Stella McCartney has been long associated with ethical and sustainable fashion. After reviving the luxury fashion house Chloe, she launched her own label and learned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Commenting on the need for better water management practices in the textile industry, in an interview with The Guardian, Stella outlined that textile production (including cotton farming) uses around 93bn cubic meters of water annually, contributing to problems in the water-deprived regions. Currently, she has opened more than 60 stores worldwide, focusing on sustainability and natural resources as ethical fashion practices. As a sustainable initiative, Stella has a cruelty-free brand ethos with a dedication to the environment. She actively engages in ways to reduce environmental impact from the textile industry by using innovative technologies.
As a result of her initiatives, the brand has implemented regenerated cashmere and sustainable viscose. This initiative has also helped save innumerable animals and the whole ecosystem.
Beatriz Perez, Senior Vice President and Global Chief of Communications, Sustainability and Strategic Partnerships, Coco-Cola
Initiative – Sustainable Strategies focused on Water Conservation
Beatriz Perez leads an integrated team of public affairs, communications, and sustainability to support its new business model towards sustainable practices. She has been involved in the company's global sustainability strategy with a focus on water stewardship. Remaining true to its cause, Coca Cola as a brand has been setting a measurable and successful example of sustainable targets. Through their CSR initiatives on water management, recycling and sustainable supply chain, the company has been aiming to contribute towards the UN's sustainable development goals with Beatriz Perez's involvement.
As a successful result of these initiatives, Coca Cola has also started its water stewardship journey in India to restore the ecosystem where it operates. They partner with regional NGOs to restore deteriorated water areas and have been involved in water conversation projects. These initiatives, together, contribute to reducing the effect of carbon footprints and global warming.
The affinity of consumers with brands delivering a positive CSR outcome
According to Cone Communications research, 64% of millennials today would not take a job if a corporate does not have robust CSR strategies. 88% of millennials say that their job is more purposeful if social issues positively impact them. Cone Communications’ report states that 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than earning profits, and contribute to social values and changes.
Members of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission are convinced that more business leaders should implement global sustainable practices across their CSR strategies. CSR initiatives by business houses like Tata Group, Unilever, Hindalco, and Nestle are some of the outstanding achievements that have helped women come to the forefront of change across the business environment.
As we advance, retailers must rethink and revisit their CSR initiatives and keep encouraging corporate social responsibility leaders to lead the change in ethical values for society's greater good. Additionally, sustainable and ethical brands also help retailers draw greater customer loyalty. Intellect Commerce's retail solutions provide end-to-end digital solutions to retailers to help achieve their business's sustainable goals. With paperless digital receipts and born-on-cloud POS, our retail management software helps you reduce your carbon footprint and paper dependency significantly. Book a demo to know more!