EHS and Corporate Social Responsibility

EHS and Corporate Social Responsibility

An inescapable priority for businesses nowadays, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) planning has come to the forefront. This continues to arrive to the forefront as government, activists and media have become adept at holding companies to account for their social activities. For a company, practising any social or environmental responsibility with a broader goal in mind, or simply contributing to the well-being of the communities they affect or on which they depend, provides coherence to its values or purposes.

Let us observe and have a look on the major industries. For a chemical industry, energy efficiency and product optimization are key areas that need improvement – watching out emissions becomes prime. A pharmaceutical industry must focus on issues that stem from wastewater effluent discharges, must be aware of the growing concerns with high purity water regulations imposed by the industry. For transportation and logistics, road safety, health and well-being of those around is a must. Greenhouse gas emissions and waste discharge remain as the biggest concerns for oil and gas, long term forest-asset management and resource management for paper and pulp, and consideration of renewable energy portfolios for power generation sector.

Many more industries are on the similar lines – to maximize their positive impact on social and environmental systems and mitigate their ongoing issues, coherent CSR strategies are crucial.

Environmental CSR initiatives are now bringing more to the table – with climate change, sustainable energy usages and recycling being many of the heated topics, they aim to motivate competitive landscapes. As the demand for socially responsible organizations continue to grow, EHS and OHS too, dig their roots deeper, where they help industries self-regulate in the realm of EHS governance. These can influence an organization’s operational efficiency, help rethink product designs or seek out for new or innovative technologies.

To determine CSR initiatives that are relevant, industries must ask the following questions –

  • What are the key challenges to be aware of?
  • Are they precise in targeting economic, social or environmental performance?
  • Is their approach feasible in generating on-ground impact?
  • In what form will they be creating and delivering value?

Harmonizing CSR

Efforts can be acts of philanthropy, where they engage in donations of money or equipment, community initiatives and aid employee volunteering. Some aim in improving operational effectiveness, and deliver social or environmental benefits in ways that aid and support company’s operations across the value chain or enhance their reputation.

Fermenta Biotech, as part of their CSR activities, have developed safety awareness animated movies for pedestrians visiting Shirdi and Kullu. With an app that guides them through the route, barcode scanners that make emergency vehicles available to them and through handy safety tips, they are working for a social cause. Having their operations unit in Kullu, such CSR activities positively influence their reputation and help them reach a large chunk of people.

Cross-functional objectives can be established, which align with the company’s overall performance – Ambuja Cements is an example. Their logistics managers identified trucking fleet as an operational risk – realized that trucks were driven dangerously by subcontractors through villages while they transported limestone and cement. To prevent accidents, they launched a driving safety program, that later expanded to include health education on alcohol, tobacco, and HIV/AIDS – a CSR initiative.

Companies with best practices operate coordinated and interdependent CSR programs – some create shared value whilst some provide more value to the society. All of such companies stand stark in contrast to those whose focus is on crafting significance only for their shareholders – they work for the needs of the communities in which they operate.

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