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Social Responsibility: Turn your Actions, into Innovation

21. 12. 2017

The era of socially responsible business is upon us! Nowadays business sustainability topics, as essential international topics, are placed high on the public agenda, because of various social and environmental issues and globalization. A society and a company’s shareholder expect organizations more and more to behave social responsibly and environment-friendly.

Why? The answer is simple: businesses no longer exist only for money. Desirable companies exist to use the power of business and leave a positive input for future generations.
However, the business sustainable development might bear the variety of threats. At the same time it may bring many opportunities. Likewise, the social responsibility engagement could be seen as the useful marketing tool which can have variety of direct positive effects; for example:

  • Better image and reputation within companies
  • Customer loyalty
  • Help companies to recover from market crisis and buffer against customers boycotts
  • Bring financial performance, etc.


OK, BUT WHERE SHOULD WE ACTUALLY START?

This is the question small and huge business have today. In my opinion, we would never find a right answer unless we research at least few real cases of companies from A to Z that consider themselves as the socially responsible businesses.

Large originations can make a huge input and make some big changes. Actually, each of us can leave a mark; just remember the idiom you learned in your early childhood:

When we are alone, it's likely possible that no change/input can be visible; however, when we all take small steps together, it eventually becomes huge power.

During the BIG BERRY Mastermind project, we had a pleasure to host Mojca Markizeti – The Sustainable Development Manager/ Fair Meter Project Manager. She has shared her valuable experience about sustainability within Iskraemeco. The Company which was founded in 1945. Since then Iskraemeco Company has been transforming valuable experience, innovation and the sound understanding of our customers` needs into comprehensive energy management solutions that follow the sustainable business model.

WHAT IS THE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IN HUMAN LANGUAGE?

According to Mojca, the sustainable business development is the high goal and it is hard to achieve, but it’s worth doing it. She says: “It‘s very hard to achieve that, but it’s worth doing it; Always keep in mind, that all your decisions, at the company, have long term effects. You might forget about your made decisions soon, but it’s definitely going to have a significant impact. Small or not, it will stay there for many years,” – she says.

To have better understanding what the sustainable development is, Mojca provides her definition: “It’s about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society. We all have great personal values; however, we forget to match them with our professional life.

If you start working at any company in the world and you would need to create the strategy for sustainable development, you should know that social responsibility is not only about climate changes. The sustainability is much more than just recycling or “acting green”, as well:

It is about developing a new business model where used materials are being returned to the production cycle and where respect for people in the entire supply chain, environment and resources is embedded in business decisions.

THREE AREAS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO KNOW

According to Mojca, there are three areas of sustainable development you need to think before starting doing some social responsible actions in higher level.

  1. Economic (smart growth, long range planning)
  2. Social (quality of life, education, community development, equal opportunities, law & ethics)
  3. Environmental (resources management & environmental protection)

And it has four categories:

  1. Human rights
  2. Labor standards
  3. Environmental issues
  4. Anticorruption/ethics

Investigate all areas and categories properly. Then go deeply and do some research about your services and/or products. Think about all the processes, production, company’s responsibility, and the responsibility of an individual. “– highlights Mojca.

ISKRAEMECO SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CASE

Iskraemeco is one of the leading companies in metering products, systems and services. The company has been successfully uniting tradition, innovation and progress for more than six decades. This company is the part of electronics industry and in terms of social development have designed sustainably development strategy based on what they really do: “If you want to be sustainable, you need to know what you are working with.” – assures Mojca Markizeti.

Well, as you might guess in terms of environmental protection, this industry has a lot of work to do. Therefore, the reason of starting this was really because of personal engagement and really not being satisfied with a way things are done: “A lot of industries chose the social development way, but not the electronic industry. It’s not that nobody knew this before, it’s just that the electronic industry and some large companies were lobbying from that and not tackling those issues.”

The most important of taking this big step was because the team have seen a chance that Iskraemeco can influence at least “something“. That was the highlight and Iskraemeco Company was not afraid of touching and influencing above issues.

SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT– FAIR METER

The FAIR METERS are electronic smart meters for measuring gas or electricity consumption practices within the electronics industry: “They are as smart as your smart phones. These devices deal with huge data every second,” – emphasizes Mojca.

The Smart meters communicate long distances through General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and other channels: “These meters actually are greater than your phones. They need to be installed and they work for 20 years, not like your phones.

Our buyers – mostly government owned companies are the distributors of electricity. As you know, it is one of the most financial stable and strongest industry. Therefore, if they say DO IT, it means it must to be done. For instance, 20 years, means 20 years, and not less.”

In order to follow ambitions in the field of sustainability Iskraemeco developed a three-tier sustainability strategy:

  • Processes (business processes are designed to minimize environmental impact regarding waste, water and air emissions);
  • Supply chain (detailed knowledge about materials and origin of them; when it comes to using recycled material, producing components can‘t be made of scarce material and suppliers needs to assure fair working conditions for everyone involved);
  • Partnerships (strive to maintain long-term relationships with partners that are based on trust; gladly shares know-how experience and informs public and stakeholders).

The Fair Meter project addresses all major issues that the electronic industry is facing today – energy intensity, labor standards, and use of conflict materials (3TG), material scarcity and E-waste. Iskraemeco tackle the above issues by implementing transparency throughout the supply chain, develop higher standards in the industry and lower exposure to risks in volatile material markets globally.
Supply chain - that’s actually the most difficult... You really need to engage with your suppliers. We need to think what they do with our environment, what they employ, do they pay to their workers, and do they enforce the environmental laws.

If we take a closer look where electronics material suppliers of the electronic equipment came from, we see that these are high risk countries for labor relations and child workers:

80% of materials in the world are from those high risk countries; also, some of those countries are in war for several decades. Just buying it means, you really don’t care…

WHERE WILL BE YOUR START?

Iskraemeco in each department of the company, have some sustainability actions in mind:

Why? Because it really influences the future. “– explains Mojca Markizeti. “The media, the society and professional community that you are targeting, they recognize your integrity, your sensitivity with all those issues. It‘s worth. “- and no more words needed here.

KNOW what your customers WANT before they really DO.

Let’s stick together and learn from each other.

 By: Indre Vitkute

 

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