CSR and Sustainability within companies and nonprofits : e-CSR.net https://e-csr.net CSR and Sustainability within companies and nonprofits : e-CSR.net Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:41:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 10 actions that companies can put in place for the climate https://e-csr.net/10-actions-companies-climate-environment-sustainable-development-16379/ https://e-csr.net/10-actions-companies-climate-environment-sustainable-development-16379/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:11:05 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=16379 What can companies do to combat climate change? Discover 10 actions to be implemented in all companies.

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As we saw in our previous article in COP21, companies are, and will be in the future, greatly affected by climate change. Yet, many do not know what they can do to combat this. Here are 10 actions that all companies could put in place to do their part in the fight against global warming.

1 – Measure and analyze their greenhouse gas emissions

The first step for any company that wants to reduce its impact on the climate is to measure its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). For this, many private agencies, who are carbon footprint certified, can help companies to measure their CO2 emissions. All companies can do this, with costs between € 5,000 and € 12,000 for companies with an average of more than 250 employees. ADEME (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management) also provides financial assistance to SMEs, up to 70%.

Once the GHG emissions are known, they must be analyzed to see which of the company’s activities are the highest pollutants. Once this analysis is done, companies can then begin to consider solutions for reducing emissions.

2 – Reducing energy consumption

Turn off the lights in the office in the evenings, slightly lower the heating or air conditioning, turn off the outlets when not in use… By paying attention to the daily routine, companies can reduce their energy consumption slightly and, thus, their impact on the climate.

If each French company, almost 3.5 million, reduced their consumption by a few percent, the effect on the climate would already be great.

Companies energy savings

3 – Using renewable energies

Today, more and more individuals are choosing renewable energy and, for companies, it is also an interesting solution. Suppliers such as ekWateur or Enercoop represent an interesting solution for using only 100% renewable energy. Avoiding fossil fuels significantly reduces your climate footprint.

4 – Reducing waste and fighting obsolescence

Another way to reduce your climate footprint is to reduce its waste. Whether it is the industrial waste of a large company or the paper waste of a small SME of the tertiary sector, all companies produce waste.

Avoid disposable cups, stirrers and capsules for the coffee machine, reduce your printing, think of reusing paper for draft, sort waste correctly … There is no lack of solutions and employees are often inventive if they are motivated by management.

It is also important to use equipment properly to avoid deterioration and to repair it when it breaks down instead of replacing it.

Companies reducing waste

5 – Optimizing your employees’ transportation

As we know, transportation is one of the largest sectors of greenhouse gas emissions. By encouraging employees to take public transit or carpool, we significantly reduce the company’s indirect CO2 emissions and therefore its climate impact.

Organizing in-house carpooling groups is also a good way to create solidarity in the company.

6 – Choosing greener infrastructure and equipment

It is now possible to choose more environmentally friendly infrastructures and equipment. This ranges from a fleet of hybrid vehicles, to building renovation according to the latest environmental standards, to the choice of recycled paper. All supplies can be selected according to environmental criteria: printers, low-energy screens, cleaning products, and even furniture (made of certified wood, for example).

7 – Choosing your business partners

Each company also has a responsibility in the choice of its trading partners. Choosing a supplier is an environmentally-friendly choice and each company should make the effort to choose suppliers for best environmental practices.

This applies not only to the supply chain, but also to potential distributors. For financial companies, investments should also be directed primarily towards “green” companies

8 – Raise awareness among employees, stakeholders and clients

As an economic agent, a company also plays a role in raising awareness in its employees, its stakeholders, and its consumers. Organizing in-house competitions enables employees to be mobilized and for campaigns to be carried out to improve awareness.

These small gestures gradually create the ground for best practices that individuals then reproduce at home and transmit to their friends… The snowball effect, so to speak.

9 – Promoting environmentally friendly ways of working

Bicycle enterprise sustainable development

Some modes of work are more ecological than others: telecommuting for example has many ecological advantages. One can also consider video conferences that avoid employees travelling by car for meetings with certain clients.

Paper work also has a heavier environmental impact than computer work. But do not end up on the opposite extreme because the Internet also has a significant environmental impact. So, avoiding copying the entire company for mail that only concerns one department saves a lot of CO2.

10 – Mobilizing for the fight against climate change

Finally, the role of companies is also political. In their territory, at the regional or national level, companies that want to fight climate change must be militant. By pushing politicians and public actors to act on global warming, they can have a huge influence. If companies are active, this can lead to new environmental regulations that can have a significant impact on global warming.

 

And you, how many of these 10 actions are set up in your company?

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Vegetarian, omnivore, organic, locavore: the environmental impact of our food decrypted https://e-csr.net/ecological-diet-vegetarian-omnivore-19772/ https://e-csr.net/ecological-diet-vegetarian-omnivore-19772/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 08:20:04 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=19772 First episode of our special issue dedicated to responsible eating! What is the environmental impact of our diet? Global warming, soil pollution, water contamination… Agriculture and food production have enormous impacts on our planet. But how can we reduce the carbon footprint of our diet? Which diet is the “eco-friendliest”? Which one will most protect the environment and the planet?

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First episode of our special issue dedicated to responsible eating! What is the environmental impact of our diet? Global warming, soil pollution, water contamination… Agriculture and food production have enormous impacts on our planet. But how can we reduce the carbon footprint of our diet? Which diet is the “eco-friendliest”? Which one will most protect the environment and the planet? Deciphering in depth, beyond wisdom.

In the face of all the environmental problems affecting the planet, we are increasingly aware of the role we must play in protecting nature. Among the daily actions we do for the environment, one counts more than the others: the way we eat. Our diet is one of the areas with the strongest environmental impacts. In order to produce food on an industrial scale, land is required, on which fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are often used. It takes machines to harvest crops, vehicles to transport food, and conserve it. In total, it is estimated, for example, that the food sector (the entire chain) could account for up to a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions.

Virtually every food we consume has contributed to both the use of chemicals, occupying soils, and emitting greenhouse gases. When we consume food, we have a responsibility to the planet and the environment. But how can we eat better if we want to avoid destroying the environment? We will describe for you the different diets in order to better understand their environmental impacts.

Is the vegetarian diet better for the planet?

vegetarian climate change environmental impact

In terms of environmental impacts, it is often said that the vegetarian diet is less harmful. Producing meat has a huge environmental impact, especially for sheep and cattle. Firstly, because producing 1 kg of meat has a higher environmental cost than producing, for example, 1 kg of potatoes. To produce 1 kg of beef, you must feed the livestock, so grow its food (cereals, hay, or other) and use water. You need to use space and in particular soil. It is then necessary to transform the animal into consumable meat (slaughter, cutting, processing, packaging…). All this contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases and certain pollution. For the potato, it is enough to plant it, to water it, and to give it certain nutrients (fertilizers for example).

In addition to this, livestock produce greenhouse gases themselves. Thus, it is estimated that an American cow raised for its meat emits between 70 and 120 kg of methane every year, the effect of which on global warming is 23 times stronger than CO2.

The carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet is therefore generally considered to be lower than that of a carnivorous diet. A study by Shrink That Footprint studied five diets: the “Meat lover”, the average American diet, the beef-free diet, the vegetarian diet, and the vegan diet. The results? Vegetarian and vegan diets are those with the lowest carbon footprint, with 1.7 and 1.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emitted per year per person, respectively. At the same time, “meat lovers” emit 3.3 tons of CO2 equivalent per year per person, twice as much as the vegan diet. On the other hand, by simply removing beef and lamb from their diet (while keeping other meat and animal products), the carbon footprint lowers  to around that of a vegetarian diet, with 1.9 tons of CO2 equivalent emitted per year per person.

foodprint vegetarian omnivore meatWhy are things not as simple when it comes to the environmental impact of food?

The reason is, in terms of food, because data does not always show the concrete and global reality. Thus, most of the studies on the environmental impact of food are based on data from the United States, which in turn guides their results. For example, in the United States, 125kg of meat is consumed per year per person according to the FAO. That’s 20% more than in France. Americans also consume 53 kg of beef per year per person, compared to “only” 23 kg in the European Union. The comparison of diets will therefore be different if adapted to the geographical context.

Similarly, the calculation of the environmental footprint of meat production refers to US farming practices, where livestock are raised primarily from cereals and soybeans. And yet, soybean and cereal farming would significantly increase methane emissions from cattle: livestock raised on natural herbs, rich in Omega-3, would emit up to 20% less methane than conventional livestock. And growing grass does not emit CO2. In France, 60% of cattle feed is made up of grass. The carbon impact of 1 kg of beef in France is therefore much lower than that of 1 kg of beef in the United States.

Moreover, it is impossible for these studies to take into account all the criteria involved in the carbon impact of food. For example, for soils, it is now known that pasture-raising is better than cereal or vegetable crops in climatic terms, since it contributes to the development of grasslands, which absorb CO2. Concretely, 1 hectare of pasture dedicated to livestock greatly reduces atmospheric CO2, while 1 hectare of crops increases it slightly. However, this data is never included in environmental impact assessments.

Finally, if we consider factors other than CO2 (such as soil, water, and biodiversity pollution), things are still complicated. For instance, fruit, vegetable, or cereal crops can be very harmful to the environment because of the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other fungicides that destroy biodiversity, and pollute soil and water. On the other hand, the production of certain vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, celery…) requires large quantities of energy and water, which makes the calculation even more complex. And all this does not take into account deforestation induced by certain crops like soybeans, or monoculture.

environmental impact of meat

So, which diet will most protect the planet?

If one tries to sum up all the studies that are done on the subject of the environmental impact of different diets, it is much harder to say which “diet” is the best for the planet. Depending on the origin of the products consumed, the culture or breeding technique used, the quantity consumed, very different results can be obtained. Thus, a vegetarian diet rich in soy and vegetables can be more harmful to the planet, with equal calories, than a diet containing a little meat, if it is raised under good conditions (pastures, organic food). Conversely, an omnivorous diet containing a lot of industrially-grown beef will have far deeper environmental consequences than a vegetarian, organic, and locavore diet.

It is therefore impossible to decide, but there are some key points to be learned in order to better understand the environmental impact of our diet and to choose a diet that better protects our environment.

  • Beef and lamb are among the most harmful foods on the planet, especially when they are grown industrially (cereal food, no pasture). For an eco-friendly diet, they are to be avoided and reduced, like meat in general. In fact, reducing your consumption of beef has more impact on the environment than no longer using your car.
  • Pasture-grazing meat makes it possible to reconstitute soils and their ability to store carbon: these are the sources of meat to be favored. Chicken and fish also have a significantly lower environmental impact than sheep or cattle on the planet. If you eat animal products, these are the ones you must choose first.
  • Vegetables and cereals have a lower overall carbon impact than meat or dairy products. Nevertheless, some vegetables have a relatively strong impact. For example, to produce 1 kg of potatoes, 2.9 kg of CO2 is emitted, and to produce 1 kg of asparagus, 3.4 kg of CO2 are emitted. If vegetables are not organic, their impact can also be very strong on biodiversity and soil quality because of chemical inputs.
  • It all depends on how much you consume. Thus, to consume 600 calories of potatos (the most energetic vegetable), it would be necessary to eat more than 780 g, and this would emit about 2.3 kg of CO2. To consume 600 calories of pork spine, it is necessary to eat only 200 g for “only” 600 g of CO2 emitted in the atmosphere.
  • Beware of the fruits and vegetables you consume: soybeans and vegetables rich in water such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or zucchinis need a lot of energy and water to be produced in industrial quantities and are sometimes associated with deforestation. Similarly, blueberries or bananas are fruits with a high environmental impact. It is therefore preferable to consume them only occasionally, when in season.
  • Legumes (lentils for example), on the other hand, are very “sober” in environmental terms, because they require little water, little energy, and emit little CO2. They must be part of any eco-friendly diet.
  • Seafood products have widely varying environmental impacts: overfishing or intensive fish farms pose many problems in terms of biodiversity in particular. Care should be taken to consume them only in season and to avoid endangered species. On the other hand, when fish stocks are well managed and products are reasonably consumed, seafood is a relatively environmentally friendly alternative to proteins such as beef in environmental terms. For more information on the consumption of seafood, do not hesitate to consult articles by our marine world expert, Niels de Girval.
  • The way in which your food is produced is as important as the type of food you eat: use local food to avoid the effects of transport, production limiting chemical inputs, meat/eggs/dairy products from animals raised under good conditions (pasture-raised, without antibiotics…).

The ideas received are sometimes very complex in terms of the environmental impact of our diet. Studies are contradictory, and it is difficult to disentangle the truth from what is false. In the end, it is often common sense that an industrial product is almost always more harmful to the environment than locally produced food, through healthy and non-intensive agricultural practices. And this is good, since it corresponds to the expectations of consumers, who, in our latest study, plebiscitated a more extensive and reasoned agriculture.

So, are you ready to start an eco-friendly diet?

 

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How is Generation Y going to (maybe) save the business world ? https://e-csr.net/generation-y-millenials-changes-enterprise-responsible-22519/ https://e-csr.net/generation-y-millenials-changes-enterprise-responsible-22519/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:52:14 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=22519 Businesses seem to be at the dawn of a great revolution, driven by the expectations of Generation Y and millennials. But what will change really?

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And if Generation Y were capable of transforming global business and getting it “on the right side”? How will the new expectations of these young and digital consumers influence companies and move them towards more responsible, fairer, more environmentally and socially responsible business models? Decryption.

Generation Y will soon take power. They are arriving slowly in the labor market, returning to work life, and beginning to seek positions of responsibility. They represent a growing share of global consumers, workers and voters.

But this generation wants to be different from those that preceded it in many areas. More open, more mobile, more connected, more diverse … Generation Y is already transforming the world. Millennials, as they are called, have already begun to change the work world. They are the generation of nomadic work and telecommuting, the digital generation, of connected objects and start-ups. They are the generation of collaborative economics, uberization, and self-employment.

But on closer inspection, Generation Y may also be the one that will finally transform businesses and make them go over to the right side: that of sustainable development, social justice, and care. It may be the one who will make the business world a fairer, more equitable world, guided by something other than profit alone. This is, in any case, what is increasingly suggested by surveys conducted with this unique Generation.

Generation Y : the generation of sustainable enterprises

Young people born in the 1980’s and 1990’s will be the first generation of adults to face the concrete consequences of global warming. They will suffer the consequences of climate change on the planet and the weather; they will suffer the consequences of global warming on companies, but also on society in general. They will be the first to lose money and comfort of living due to global warming caused by previous generations. They will bear the brunt of the health consequences of air pollution, the increase of social inequalities, political and economic crises …

For all these reasons, Generation Y appears more sensitive than others to issues of sustainable development, ethics, and social justice. Young people born after the 1980’s (according to a poll conducted by the White House Economic Advisors) are more likely to want to help improve society than the previous generations. With 84% of them making donations to charities, they invest in philanthropic causes more regularly than their elders.

innovation-sustainable-management-tools-feelings-millenials

They want to change their society, change their way of life, and they obviously place their expectations on businesses. And that might well push the latter to change, at last. According to a survey conducted by Global Tolerance, 62% of young people want to work only “for companies and organizations that seek to deliver a positive environmental and social impact”. They would be 84% who consider a company’s sustainable development policy as an essential purchasing criterion. Millennials are now looking for companies that make an effort to protect the environment, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and promote ethics and equity. 75% of Generation Y’s young people consider it important for a company to “pay its debt to society”.

Today, these new types of consumers account for a quarter of the world’s population and nearly $ 200 billion in annual purchasing power, with purchasing power expected to grow: by 2030, millennials will account for 75% of the active working population in the world. It is therefore this new audience that brands need to seduce. But in order to seduce them, they will have to transform. In fact, only 1% of millennials are influenced by traditional advertising and marketing. Businesses will therefore have to find new ways to attract the favors of these demanding consumers. Generation Y reads blogs and social networks before buying (33% of young people say they are mainly influenced by blogs for their news and their purchases) and is not influenced by the traditional media (TV, newspapers, radio…). To stand out and attract these young people, companies will have to show what they do best. They will have to develop their “reputation” but not only for the quality of their products or their ability to innovate. What will count now is their reputation in social, environmental, or ethical areas, or customer relations.

Necessarily, companies that want to reach these young people will have to make efforts: to be more green, to be fairer and more ethical. Out of necessity, this will force companies to seriously address social and environmental issues. And all this should help make the business world (a little bit) better.

Generation Y : transparency et authenticity

generation_Y_work_bussinessMillennials are also waiting for companies to transform their modes of communication. They expect more transparency: 43% of young people consider that the authenticity of a brand is more important than the content it communicates. If they do not trust a brand, they do not even bother to read or watch the message it is broadcasting. 62% of digital natives say they want to engage directly with brands on social networks, in a more direct and transparent way, without going through the traditional corporate channels such as advertising and marketing. They want a more personal relationship with their brands.

Communication with the young people of generation Y will therefore be more horizontal, direct, and co-constructed. 42% of millennials want to play a stronger role in the co-construction of the products they buy: they want to offer their opinion, give feedback, have a role and a view into the entire production process, and know what it is they are buying … From now on, companies will no longer be able to maintain a climate of permanent opacity around their production processes: they must be clear about what they put in their products, how these products are manufactured, and the conditions of sale. Businesses like Volkswagen are already showing the beginning of this trend: when a company is lying or hiding information from its consumers, its reputation and performance are affected almost immediately.

Faced with consumers who are increasingly “players”, companies will consequently have to open up, become more flexible and transparent.

Generation Y and Investment for a Sustainable Society

Finally, Generation Y will not give its money to just anyone: it will be an investment that makes sense. According to Accenture, younger generations will inherit at least $ 30 billion from their parents in the United States alone by 2030. With these assets, they could become investors. And again, Generation Y will change the situation: according to a study conducted by Spectrem Group, 45% of the millennials with capital would like to be able to use it to help others and society. 67% would consider investing to be a reflection of their social, political and environmental values.

 

generation-y-investment

When millennials begin to invest in finance and the stock market, it will no longer be the large profit-oriented companies that will attract their investments. On the contrary, Generation Y will invest its capital in companies that match their commitment and are more responsible, sustainable, and fairer. It is a safe bet that, tomorrow, it will no longer be only stock prices that will decide the financial future of companies, but also their ability to promote positive actions that they carry out on a daily basis.

Soon, the societal commitment of companies will become a criterion for obtaining financing and to attract capital. The trend has already begun: at present, asset managers, pension funds, and financial actors in general are increasingly turning to socially responsible investment (SRI). Assets in this type of investment are still far from reaching the amounts that are known in finance in general, but the trend is there: 21 billion in assets in 2014, 62% more than in 2012. And the more of Generation Y who has assets, the more this trend will continue. Ultimately, millennials could also push finance to become “responsible”.

 

The business world is therefore perhaps in a pivotal period, a period of transition. Companies will have to transform themselves in the face of the emergence of a generation that demands a real change in model. Generation Y is a bearer of hope: the hope that soon the divide between companies and society will be reduced, that all economic and social actors will be able to co-construct a better and more sustainable society. Will these hopes lead to a real revolution in the business world? Only the future will tell, but one thing is certain: some transformations have already begun!

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Sweden wants to lower taxes for those who repair instead of throw away https://e-csr.net/sweden-lower-taxes-repair-circular-economy-22176/ https://e-csr.net/sweden-lower-taxes-repair-circular-economy-22176/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:24:32 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=22176 In Sweden, if you repair instead of throwing away, the state is giving you money to encourage more eco-friendly and responsible consumption. An example to follow ?

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Sweden is about to pass a law allowing consumers who choose to repair rather than throw away, to earn money and benefit from tax cuts. Is this a way to encourage more responsible and ecological consumption?

As we know with certainty, our buying methods lead us into an ecological dead end. We buy too much, we consume too much, and as a result, we pollute too much. Based on this observation, more and more consumers are adopting new practices: minimalism, fighting against programmed obsolescence, bartering, recovering, repairing. But it must be admitted that today, everything encourages us not to adopt a more sober and responsible way of life.

Making the repair and reuse of the objects we consume more attractive

Even industrialists admit it: for a consumer, it is often more profitable to buy a new item rather than to have it repaired. Between the repair costs, the time it takes, the constraints it requires (sending the item to be repaired or taking it to the repairman, waiting for the piece, etc.), it is sometimes complicated to want to be a responsible consumer, especially when we know that in a few clicks on the Internet, it is possible to have a new object delivered for a relatively low price.

Fortunately, some governments are ahead of the issue. This is the case in Sweden. Last week, the Social Democratic Party and the Swedish Green Party proposed to Parliament a new law that would make the reparation much more profitable. The goal? Allow consumers who choose to repair rather than throw away and redeem, to save on their taxes. Today in Sweden, the repairing objects is subject to 25% VAT. The objective of this innovative bill is to reduce this rate to 12% for any repairs on a bicycle, a pair of shoes, or a piece of clothing.

repair law sweden taxes In addition, the consumer who chooses to repair will also be able to deduct 50% of the labor cost from repairs made on these items. And to go even further in this logic, the bill also includes new taxes on products containing non-recyclable or hardly recyclable and repairable materials. All these measures mean two things: on the one hand, it becomes more economical to have products repaired, and on the other hand, it becomes more expensive to buy new objects that are difficult to repair and recycle.

Towards a model of society that leaves behind mass consumption ?

All in all, this will cost the government a lot of money: almost 190 million SEK (about 20 million EUR) for tax cuts and 270 million SEK for the VAT reduction (almost 28 million EUR). But this can also yield a lot in the long run. This should continue to reduce pollution and waste (which are very costly to the public authorities), and above all, relaunch an entire economy based on repairing, recycling, and the circular economy.

Again, the countries of the North show that they are ahead of environmental policies. After opening the way to industrial ecology, after winning first place in all nature conservation classifications, they are once again the pioneers in the circular economy and they advocate more responsible consumption.

Will Sweden be the first country to encourage an exit from mass consumption?

 

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Shorter working days: the secret to a healthier, more productive life? https://e-csr.net/schedules-working-days-productivity-22477/ https://e-csr.net/schedules-working-days-productivity-22477/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 08:10:10 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=22477 8 hours ? 10 hours ? 6 hours ? How long should we work every day to respect your biological rhythm, be more productive and efficient?

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What if we got out of work a little earlier? What if our work schedules were shorter on a daily basis? It is perhaps the secret to a healthier, more productive life, and more efficient companies.

Today, the professional world is reinventing its organizational principles. Increasingly, companies and employees are finding that businesses’ traditional organizational methods are not functioning well: burn-outs multiply, stress-related diseases at work increase, boredom (and the famous bore-out) are part of everyday life in many companies… Companies are therefore increasingly thinking about new ways of functioning, allowing them to adapt to a more flexible, increasingly digital, and open social and economic context.

Thus, companies and employees are experimenting teleworking, walking to work, napping at work… They are also trying new ways of organizing working time, such as increased leave time, the idea of ​​taking regular breaks during the day…

But among the latest trends, there is one that is beginning to emerge among the most productive companies in the world: the reduction of the daily volume of work. And if working shorter days made it possible to be, at the same time, better in life, better in work, and to boost the productivity of companies?

shorter working daysShorter working day : why do we work 8 hours a day?

The 8-hour day became the traditional pattern for workers during the 20th century. We start the day at 9 am, finish it between 5 and 7 pm (depending on the meal break time), and carry out about 8 hours of daily work. But why eight hours? This idea, which seems so obvious to us today, is inherited from a simple slogan that is almost 200 years old.

It was the beginning of the industrial revolution, and companies were flourishing thanks, in particular, to the labor power of their employees. The companies were then pushing these employees to work as much as possible: up to 12 or even 15 hours a day. An entrepreneur and social thinker, Robert Owen, then had the intuition that it would be more productive for a company to have happier and healthier employees rather than exhausted employees during unsustainable days. He launched a social program to improve the quality of life of his employees, reduce working hours, stopping child labor. In 1817, he launched a slogan “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”, a program supposed to symbolize the balance of a working day. This slogan even became that of the 1st Workers’ International.

200 years later, in 2016, companies are still operating on this principle, a principle developed 200 years ago to relieve precarious workers from exploitation. And of course, today, more and more entrepreneurs and employees are wondering whether a principle as archaic is today always adapted to our world of work, radically different from that of 1817. This is particularly the case in Sweden, which has launched a six-hour workday program. And science seems to prove them right!

Working 8 hours a dayShorter working days: a biological necessity

The idea of ​​working 8 consecutive hours in the day is in complete contradiction with the way our body works. Our organism is unable to be productive for 8 consecutive hours, notably because of what is called the “circadian rhythm”, that is to say our daily biological cycles. How our body reacts during the day depends on many factors: our hormones, our diet, our exposure to daylight… And what scientists studying these issues have found is that we have a very specific biological rhythm. Thus, we are productive at certain times of the day intellectually and physically. And at other times, we are not productive at all.

For example, we know that the human body has two productivity peaks in the day. The first takes place mid-late morning: after waking, the brain activates gradually, and becomes very active before noon (up to 1 p.m. on average). There follows a period when the brain is not very productive (until 3-4 p.m.). Then the body reactivates gradually and reaches a maximum of productivity (on the physical plane) until 5-6 p.m.. In summary: the body is made to think in the morning, to do tasks requiring little concentration in the early afternoon, and physical tasks in late afternoon, early evening. Some suggest that the body also has a peak of creativity in the evening around 9 p.m.. Of course, these rhythms are not always accurate, they may depend on individuals, their sleeping hours, or their eating rhythm. But it is generally the normal functioning mode for a human body.

When working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in an office, with a break from 12 to 1 p.m., for example, we are in complete contradiction to our natural rhythm. First, we are on meal break exactly when our brain is most active. Then we spend almost a third of the day (from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) working when our body is the least productive… Finally, it is only in the morning (where we are more productive overall) that we are in line with our pace.

And above all, more and more studies tend to prove that an individual can focus only their attention on intellectual work for a limited time! Some studies say 52 consecutive minutes, others say 1h30… But overall, the results show that in a day, we are only really intellectually productive for about 6 hours, provided we take good breaks.

Less working hours for more productive days : what is the ideal working time?

shorter working days schedule productivity

Using these theoretical findings, many companies and employees try it in practice: we know, for example, that employees who work 8 hours or more during the day are on average less productive than those who work less. They are less efficient in cognitive tests, less efficient in intellectual tests, in particular because of the cerebral fatigue that accumulates. Being in the office for more than 8 hours a day is associated with poorer overall health, with a 40% higher risk of developing heart disease or stress related diseases. Another study conducted by the Laboratory on Health and Safety in the UK shows that long hours of work induce fatigue, stress, headaches, cardiovascular disorders (note, “long hours” includes travel time!) . Some research goes so far as to say that working more than 8 hours a day sitting at an office is as bad for health as smoking tobacco.

It can be seen in countries with the highest average working hours, they also have the lowest productivity. And those where work days are the shortest are the most productive. And it may be a coincidence, but these countries also have the highest quality of working life, and where the quality of life is the best. And the same is true for companies: those that impose daily working hours are also the least productive.

In the end, scientists generally agree that the ideal daily working time is around 6 hours, and more concentrated in the morning. This is what is being practiced in Sweden, and they are currently experiencing significant success. Thus, workers take advantage of the hours when they are most productive, and concentrate in the afternoon other daily activities (including social, sporting and cultural). This freedom allows employees to better manage their fatigue, their work-life balance (fundamental for productivity), and also allows them to rediscover everyday life outside of work. Experts in psychology have shown that this way of organizing working time (short working days punctuated by short periods of vacation) is the one that makes the employees happiest: more than, for example, working longer and taking a longer vacation. It is therefore better to work less daily and take small frequent holidays, especially since long holidays seem to have a detrimental effect on mood and productivity!

In short, what science says today is that our whole way of organizing working time is unsuited to our physiology. Rather than working long hours each day,working shorter hours means more intense and concentrated productivity. Rather than spending our whole day at the office, we should fragment our working time, and concentrate it more in the morning. Rather than working hard all year long in the hope of taking a long vacation in August to have fun at the pool or on the beach, it is better to take the time to live daily and take shorter holidays more frequently throughout the year.

 

So if you want to be more productive, happier and healthier, it’s time to adopt a different lifestyle. And to spend less days at work!

 

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5 Arguments for More Equality between Men and Women at Work https://e-csr.net/egality-men-women-work-performances-18156/ https://e-csr.net/egality-men-women-work-performances-18156/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:26:12 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=18156 5 arguments to convince your boss that gender equality at work leads to big rewards! Improve performance, attract young talent ... Find out why more gender equality is needed at work.

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Improving gender equality in the workplace would be good for companies. If you want your employer to promote gender equality at work, here are 5 reasons to do so.

Today in France, professional equality between men and women is still far from being achieved. According to a large study carried out by INSEE in 2010, women represent only slightly more than 35% of managers in France. Worse, they are still being paid 18% less for one hour of work in the same job. While there should be no need for arguments for greater diversity and equality in the workplace, it is sometimes difficult to progress in this area. Here are five unstoppable arguments to convince your employer or HRD to seek more gender equality at work.

1 – Improving organizational performance and well-being at work

A study by Credit Suisse shows a correlation between a work environment where parity is respected and better organizational performance. Gender equality in the workplace (and diversity in general) would provide a more global and holistic view of the issues facing the company, and thus more effective solutions would be found to address these issues. Another study suggests that firms with more than 10% of women as managers have incomes 41% higher on average than those with only 5%.

The quality of work life is also known to be better when more women are part of the management of a company. According to a study conducted in the United States on the management of companies, on average, employees are more enthusiastic and committed to work when a woman is their direct manager, and this observation applies to employees that are men and women. Overall, women would be better managers. They tend to encourage their colleagues to work and to see them progress. Employees managed by women declare 1.26 times more than those managed by men that their development is encouraged in the company. This would help create an emulating and motivating environment.

Egality-men-women-management

2 – Better understanding and targeting consumers

Even today, companies tend to be very masculine at all levels: managers, marketing managers, designers… And yet, it is women who purchase and use household items. In developed countries, between 70% and 85% of daily purchases are made by women, 68% of car purchases, 93% of agri-food purchases, and 92% of holidays and recreations are decided by women.

However, 91% of women consider that business marketing and the way products are designed are not adapted to their needs.

To better target the needs of these consumers, it is necessary to get out of an overly masculine scheme of the company. Including women means potentially better understanding the needs of consumers, having a more global vision, creating new market shares.

3 – Attracting and retaining talent

47% of managers believe that improving gender equality is also a way to attract top female talent. Nearly 60% of masters graduates are women. They are the majority in almost all curricula: they represent 65% of law or political science graduates, 62% of medical graduates, 60% of economics, management, or natural sciences graduates. Improving gender equality is therefore also to ensure recruitment of these young talents.

In addition, Generation Y is particularly sensitive to these issues, and young employees increasingly attach importance to this criterion in their job search. But that is not all: a study by David Kaplan for Human Resource Management shows that a fairer work environment where diversity is respected encourages employees to keep their jobs. More equality between men and women means less turnover in the company.

Millenials-work-CSR

4 – Improving corporate image and reputationAméliorer son image et sa réputation corporate

More equality between men and women in the company is also a matter of image. Gender equality is increasingly being identified as a factor in the corporate reputation of brands. Moreover, it is known that the youngest consumers are increasingly attaching importance to diversity issues. A brand that has a proactive workplace diversity policy will tend to have a better image and attract these market shares.

Knowing that, today, the reputation and ethics of a brand are more important than the price of products in consumer purchasing criteria is an important argument.

5 – Decreasing regulatory risks

Improving gender equality in the workplace is also a regulatory issue: last year, nearly 1,500 French companies were called to order for failing to put in place an diversity improvement plan at work and 47 have been legally or financially sanctioned. A Sagem factory was recently condemned to pay 165,000 euros to an employee who was paid less than her male counterparts.

Given the growing public demand for gender equality, the regulatory environment could still be tightened at this level in the years to come. This is another reason for all companies to take the lead and develop parity both in terms of posts and salaries.

Don’t hesitate! With these 5 arguments, you have enough to convince your boss to further improve gender equality at work.

 

Image credits : Women Management on Shutterstock, Women office on Shutterstock

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The top 100 companies with the best CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reputation https://e-csr.net/companies-top-100-best-csr-reputation-22300/ https://e-csr.net/companies-top-100-best-csr-reputation-22300/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:20:45 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=22300 Quelles sont les entreprises les plus responsables du monde ? Découvrez le classement des 100 entreprises avec la meilleure réputation RSE et la meilleure image de marque !

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Which companies have the strongest CSR reputation in the world? Which are perceived as the most responsible? Back to the “CSR Rep Track” ranking, published by the renowned Reputation Institute.

The importance of CSR for the reputation of brands

The links between CSR and a company’s reputation have now been clearly established. As we know, when a company has a strong and effective CSR policy (and makes it known), its reputation and brand image improve. And on the contrary, when the perception of a company’s CSR is bad, its image deteriorates. (See the definition of CSR in our CSR dictionary)

That is why today, more and more companies are seeking to improve their CSR reputation. Informing its stakeholders of the means implemented in the framework of its CSR and the results obtained is a strategy adopted by more and more large companies. For this reason, the Reputation Institute, which specializes in the study of corporate image and reputation (as well as their e-reputation), has been working for several years to establish a ranking of the companies with the best CSR reputation.

Once again this year, the Institute delivered its ranking of the most renowned companies. The ranking started 10 years ago and is based on a survey of nearly 60,000 consumers in 15 countries each year (6 million cumulative responses since the launch of the study), regarding the reputation of more than 3,000 companies (with a turnover of 1 billion or more globally, or 6 million in the USA). 7 dimensions of corporate reputation were analyzed, including 3 which constitute the “CSR reputation” of these companies (governance, citizenship, and working conditions). So then, which companies have the best CSR reputation?

The top 100 companies with the best CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reputation

ranking-top-10-companies-reputation-csr

Once again, Google takes the top spot in the ranking this year. Despite the enormous environmental impact of the Internet sector, the web giant is doing well in the CSR domain for several reasons. First, the company is known as one of the most eco-friendly companies in the Internet industry: it was second just behind Apple in the ranking published by Greenpeace on this subject. This score is the result of a vast investment program in green energy, which allows the web giant to power its data center with 100% renewable electricity. Google has also made a buzz with its philanthropic foundation, Google.org, which has several hundred billion dollars of funds to fight poverty and grow sustainable development. But most importantly, the image that consumers retain of Google is that of a young, dynamic company with a real wellness program at work and a real strategy allowing its employees to be more productive (high salaries, cultural or sports infrastructures dedicated to their employees, services provided by the company, etc.). First place therefore goes to Google, in the view of consumers, despite the controversies created by Google on privacy in particular.

Second in the ranking, another web giant, Microsoft, whose reputation is also widely taken up by investments in renewable energy and a proactive policy on well-being at work and welfare of employees (ranked 7th in Great Place to Work). Microsoft is also known for its philanthropic actions, and the name of the company is also often associated with that of its founder Bill Gates, who gave several billion dollars to the philanthropy and development of the countries of the South.

It is Walt Disney Company that completes the podium, a natural position for a company whose image is spotless, and whose strategy on ethics, governance, and citizenship is widely recognized.

In the rest of the top 10, we find BMW, Lego, Daimler, Apple, Rolls Royce, Rolex, and Intel. The entire top 100 list is available below.

 

The complete ranking of the most reputable companies

ranking-top-50-companies-reputation-csrclassement-top-100-entreprises-reputation-rse

Of course, this list does not indicate which are the most responsible companies. It merely gives reflects the consumer perception of these issues. If these companies are well ranked, they have succeeded in communicating effectively on their CSR strategies, but that does not necessarily mean that these strategies are the most effective in the world! And above all, the ranking excludes de facto certain companies (SMEs or companies that are little known to the general public).

 

But, this is one more proof that CSR is synonymous with reputation, and therefore with economic and financial performance!

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5 Ways to be Green on a Daily Basis https://e-csr.net/5-ways-to-be-green-daily-23804/ https://e-csr.net/5-ways-to-be-green-daily-23804/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:43:01 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=23804 Cet article 5 Ways to be Green on a Daily Basis est apparu en premier sur CSR and Sustainability within companies and nonprofits : e-CSR.net.

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What are the best way to be greener on a daily basis? How can we REALLY to reduce our environmental impact? We have selected for you the 5 practices that will have the most impact on YOUR impact on the environment.

The problem is that in terms of the environment, we do not always know where to start. Is it better to bet on zero waste? Change your diet? Or do without some products? All “green” gestures are not equal in terms of efficiency.

But by looking more closely at the environmental footprint of the average person, and in particular his/her carbon footprint, we can identify the most effective actions. Here are 5 practices classified by efficiency that will not only allow you to be more eco-friendly, but will also preserve your health and your wallet.

1. Change your form of transportation (and live in the city)

city car pollutionThe biggest culprit of pollution and CO2 emissions of a Frenchman, on average, is transport. More than half of the CO2 emissions of a Frenchman (54%) are due to the use of transportation and 79% of these emissions are caused by the use of individual vehicles alone. In other words, about half of your carbon impact (and therefore your environmental impact via climate change) is caused by your daily use of the car.

Taking your car every morning to go to work is therefore probably the most polluting thing you can do. The first thing to do to be a little more eco-friendly is, thus, cut back on being behind the wheel. Of course, this is not necessarily easy, especially if you live in rural areas or in a suburb, where public transport is barely (or badly) developed. But if you live in the city, it’s easy! One study shows that, on average, city dwellers living in large urban centers have a lower impact on the environment than those living far from cities, and this is mainly due to better public transportation! In the big cities, it is very easy to get around without using car. Here’s how :

  • Take the bike: in cities, it is the fastest way of transport! 15 to 16 km/hr, against for example only 14 for a car in traffic. For all trips of less than 5 km (3 miles), cycling is the ideal form of transportation. And it’s good for health: a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that going to work every day by bike is a more effective way of preserving your health than going regularly to the gym. Another advantage, last but not the least, is that if you use your bike rather than the car, you save on gasoline!
  • Walking: If you are lucky enough to live near your place of work, walking is the ideal way to get around. It’s free, it emits no pollution, and it is good for your health. Walking is one of the best methods of preventing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and also… colorectal cancer (it’s good to know).
  • Take public transport: public transport is generally much less polluting than the private car. On average, trams, metro, trains have a carbon footprint of between 20 and 45 g of CO2 per km and per passenger. In comparison, the individual car emits around 135 g of CO2 per km and per passenger (in very fluid traffic conditions) and around 310 g of CO2 per km and per passenger in the city (more in the case of congestion). The bus emits somewhere between the two (80 g of CO2/km/passenger approximately). A US study suggests that taking public transit reduces your annual carbon footprint by about 2 kg (nearly 28% down).

It’s important to note that taking public transport, cycling, or walking do not necessarily mean delays, wasted time, or a longer commute. In Paris, for example, 97% of metro passengers arrive on time, and around 90% of RER passengers and passengers on other modes of transport. In urban areas, the bike is almost always as fast or even faster than the car (see the comparison in Albi , Vannes or Paris ). As for the walk: for a journey of 2 to 3 km, the walk is systematically faster than the public transport, and sometimes faster than the car according to the conditions of circulation and the accessibility of a parking space.

In the event that these alternatives are not feasible (because public transport does not reach your work area, for example), other solutions can be found: intermodality for example! Take your car to get to a subway station that reaches your job! Or take public transport to an urban bike rental area close to your job. Carpooling can also be arranged, which can be set up in enterprises by means of PDE (business travel plans), in order to reduce the impact of employee transport . But keep in mind that you are probably part of the 43% of French people who take their car while an alternative mode of transport equivalent in time exists for their daily commutes!

2. Choosing and maintaining your home (even renovating it)

green building ecology

The second most polluting resource for the French is… housing! Indeed, the energy and heat consumption in housing represents about 30% of the polluting emissions of a Frenchman. On these emissions, it is mainly heating (and electricity consumption) on environmental bill. They account for 84% of the polluting emissions of French homes, compared with only 16% for emissions related to the production of household equipment.

In other words, if one wants to reduce one’s environmental impact and especially that from housing, the first thing to do is to lead a more vigilant lifestyle. For example, you can slightly reduce the heating temperature of your accommodation (and put on a sweater!), take baths and long showers less often. The idea is also to reduce our needs by using suitable equipment: low-energy bulbs, thermostats to regulate the temperature per room, or water meters to measure and regulate its daily water consumption.

And most importantly, it can be very profitable (economically and ecologically speaking) to have one’s home renovated in order to reinforce the insulation. This may involve replacing windows, insulating the attic, or placing an insert instead of an open fireplace in your home. In this regard, consult ADEME’s comprehensive guide, which gives you all the tips to living in an environmentally friendly way (which installation to choose, how to renovate, how to get heat on a daily basis). Knowing that heating is 67% of household energy consumption, it is THE most important point to consider to reduce the environmental impact of housing.

But that’s not all: collective housing (townhouses, apartments) are also more environmentally friendly than the individual houses on average. The concentrated habitat makes it possible to pool the resources consumed (an inhabitant of a single house consumes 7% more energy than a resident of a apartment ). Having a single house and a large garden is not necessarily environmentally friendly, and it encourages urban sprawl. So bet on small dwellings, close to downtown and public transport (to avoid having to take the car every time you leave).

3. Reduce or change your meat and dairy consumption

meat-food-danger

The third culprit of greenhouse gas emissions for French is food. In France, about 22% of our CO2 emissions come from our food! Dairy products (48% of our food) and meat (30%) greatly increase our impact on the environment. To reduce our carbon footprint, it is therefore necessary to begin by reducing our consumption of dairy and meat products.

In France, we consume more than 85 kg of dairy products per year (3.1 kg of butter, 3.7 kg of cream, more than 28 kg of yogurt, 38 kg of milk or 12 kg of cheese). And from the environmental point of view these numbers are far from trivial! To produce 1 liter of milk, about 1 kg of CO2 is generally emitted (in France, but according to a US study, this figure can rise to more than 4 kg of CO2 per liter). Indeed, cows produce a lot of methane (a very powerful pollutant partly responsible for climate change), and their feed can be expensive in terms of pollution if they are not grazing. When we know that it takes about 22 liters of milk to make 1 kg of butter, we really see how big an impact our consumption has on the environment.

The French are already among the biggest consumers of dairy in the world (1st for butter and cheese) and data indicate that we consume too much. However, in recent years, some studies have suggested that over-consumption of dairy products may increase the risk of developing certain cancers due to excess calcium. On the other hand, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that the consumption of milk and dairy products does not decrease the risk of osteoporosis. From the nutritional and health point of view, it is therefore desirable to reduce our consumption of dairy products.

But dairy products are not alone responsible, as meat also has a significant impact on our planet: the breeding of meat breeds pollutes enormously. And since we consume more than 86 kg of meat per year per capita, we have a good margin to reduce this consumption. In environmental terms it is mainly the beef and lamb production that is a problem: they are undoubtedly among the most polluting foods, with around 11 kg of CO2 emitted per 1000 calories . On the other hand, pork, chicken or duck are just under 4 kg of CO2 per 1000 calories, such as fruits and vegetables (on average), while cereals and legumes are around 2. 8 kg of CO2 per 1000 calories on average. A study by Shrink That Footprint shows that a beef- and lamb- less diet is much more environmentally friendly than a diet rich in beef (practically equivalent to a vegetarian diet in terms of environmental impact).

It is quite possible to consume less meat (and less beef in particular), and it is even advised by several institutions of authority on the subject. For example, WHO estimates that over-consumption of red meat (and in particular processed meat) is likely to have a negative effect on the prevalence of cancers, particularly when the meat is cooked or cooked at high temperatures. So to be more eco-friendly and healthy, eat less beef, less lamb and less meat in general!

4. Go on vacation closer to home

vacation-holidays-closer

When we talk about pollution and environmental impact, one thing is rarely mentioned: the rich systematically pollute more than the poor. Besides the fact that the rich generally consume more (which increases their carbon footprint), the problem is mainly their way of life and especially their leisure and travel habits. For example, a simple airplane trip abroad can greatly increase your carbon footprint. If you decide to go on vacation in Mexico, your flight will emit about 2.4 tons of CO2 equivalent (nearly one third of the average annual carbon footprint of a Frenchman).

So if your goal is to be more eco-friendly, choose to go on holiday closer to home, to destinations accessible by train, for example. Not only will you save money, but you will protect the planet. And do not forget that it is not Mexico City, nor Phuket or Sydney, that are at the top of the 10 places to visit in 2017 after Lonely Planet, but Bordeaux, which will be accessible in 2 hours thanks to the LGV from Paris. Of course, nothing prevents you from traveling by plane to discover the wonders of the other side of the world, but in this case, follow our 5 tips for a more eco-friendly holiday (and avoid transferring flights!).

Apart from travel, recreation also has a significant impact on the environment. So, if your hobby is the motocross you will pollute more than if you are a compulsive gardener. And if you’re hooked on surfing, be careful: surfers emit an average of 50% more than an average person.

5. Be an active member of your community

Shared-garden-lille-town

People living alone are polluting on average more than families and large households. The reason is simple: when there are many in a dwelling, the energy spent to heat or light the dwelling is shared between individuals. When you are alone, you pollute while the resources go only to yourself. Roommates and housemates are therefore a good idea.

But living in a community also includes learning to share and exchange. There is the classic example of the drill: almost all households have one, and more than 99% of the time it is stored in a closet without being used. It would be much more profitable and more environmentally friendly that neighbors buy only one drill all together and lend it when the time comes or rent from the owner. If the sharing economy and the collaborative economy were widespread among communities, thy would bring about enormous resource savings. And we can apply the same idea to carpooling and many other things!

With these 5 acts, you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. Of course, other habits are important: reducing and sorting waste, recycling, etc. But in terms of efficiency, these 5 are the most effective and easy to achieve. For example, reducing even that 30% use of the car, a French will save 1 tonne of CO2 per year on average. To achieve the same result by reducing waste, it would be necessary, for example, to reduce its annual production of plastics waste by 300 kg (i.e. more than what a French producer produces in one year)! Another example: simply bypassing beef would allow you to save 600 kg of CO2 per year!

Well, you know everything. With these 5 gestures to be greener, you can now better choose how to better respect the planet on a daily basis. 

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How can we put Human Resources at the service of CSR? https://e-csr.net/hr-csr-role-human-resources-18055/ https://e-csr.net/hr-csr-role-human-resources-18055/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:29:22 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=18055 Comment les Ressources Humaines peuvent-elles contribuer à intégrer la RSE dans l'entreprise et à améliorer les performances RSE ?

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A new 2016 CSR resolution: have a more responsible human resources policy. But how can HR be at the service of a company’s CSR policy? The answer is down below.

Do we have to think about the CSR policy of a company through a “CSR department”? Do you really have to be in a very large company and have a dedicated department to do CSR? As we have seen, a few simple actions are enough to reduce paper consumption and the environmental impact, or to improve business transport.

But CSR is also a social problem, which therefore has its place alongside a human resource strategy. How can we improve the quality of working life of our employees? How can we better manage diversity at work? How can we develop employee commitment? And how can we put in place a more responsible management? So many questions that a company must ask if it wants a more responsible human resource management.

How should we answer these questions?

How can HR contribute to CSR in the business?

Better engage its employees.

Today, employees are pleased with CSR in companies. Many would like to invest more in the positive steps of their company, to improve their environmental, social, or economic impact. The problem is such that concrete employee engagement in CSR is often difficult. Uninformed, little encouraged, and little supported, employees eventually give up. Thanks to a human resources strategy, however, it is possible to allow employees to better invest, thanks to a few simple gestures:

  • Better communicate internally :

 

59% of employees feel they are not sufficiently informed about the CSR actions implemented in their company. Better communication means allowing them to invest more, knowing that 85% of employees would like to be more involved in CSR. It is also a way of decompartmentalizing CSR, making it a global strategy, truly integrated into the company’s business model and its daily activities.

CSR personal interview

Personal interview : the CSR criterion

  • Include CSR at the center of Human Resources :

HR management also plays a key role in truly embedding CSR in the life of the company. For example, it can play a role of training or sensitizing employees on CSR topics. But it can also integrate CSR into its evaluation process, integrating the CSR criteria into the annual evaluation meeting.

  • Creating ambition around CSR :

In both small and large companies, the role of HR can also be to create ambition around CSR, to make it something fun: organize internal competitions around CSR for example.

Improving the quality of employee working life

HR also has a role to play in improving the working conditions of employees, which is an integral part of CSR. Thus, human resources management can contribute to:

  • Improving the quality of work life :

Ergonomics of premises and equipment, more attentive management… Human resources, by helping to improve working conditions, make the company a more responsible entity. They can help reduce stress at work, improve well-being at work through the use of digital technologies, etc.

  • Be more flexible when possible :

A more responsible HR management also means listening to employees and sometimes offering them more flexibility. When possible, HR can give them more flexibility in their schedules to better manage their work/life balance and productivity, or allow for teleworking.

Teleworking benefit performance

Teleworking improves performances

Why is an HR management engagement in CSR beneficial to the company?

For a company, the benefits of an HR strategy are numerous. First, improving employees’ commitment to CSR contributes to the motivation of employees, and therefore to their productivity. According to a study carried out by the University Paris Dauphine with the support of AFNOR, the involvement of employees in the environmental approaches of their company increases their productivity by 16%.

Improving quality of work life, having a more responsible, more participative management, also contributes to improving competitiveness, reducing absenteeism. This is also an argument for HRDs who want to improve their employer brand. A company with more responsible management is more likely to attract young generation Y talent.

 

Putting HR at the service of CSR is therefore an investment (both for an HR manager, an employer, or an employee), and an investment that can yield in financial terms and in terms of work life quality.

Crédits image : Human Resources on Shutterstock, Interview on Shutterstock

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Agri-Ecological Small Farms: The Solution to World Hunger and Sustainable Food? https://e-csr.net/replace-industrial-agriculture-agroecological-farms-21513/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 09:18:32 +0000 http://e-rse.net/?p=21513 Selon une grande synthèse de plus de 400 études internationales, l'agriculture industrielle détruit la planète. Il faudrait la remplacer par l'agroécologie.

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Should we change our agricultural system for a more sustainable, equitable food supply that will feed the entire world population? This is, in any case, what is suggested by the major study carried out by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food (IPES Food), who advocate the transition to a diversified agro-ecology made up of smaller, less intensive farms with fewer inputs. 

The study, published last June, is one of the biggest reviews on the issue of agricultural systems developed to date. It contains nearly 400 studies published by international experts from all walks of life (from FAO to the University of Oxford, UNEP, and the European Commission), gathered and analyzed by some twenty independent experts coordinated by IPES. Its objective is to analyze the problems and weaknesses of the world agricultural and food system (its ecological, economic, and social footprint, world hunger…) in order to better understand how to transform it to feed the planet and not destroy the world’s ecosystem.

The conclusions of this large-scale study are summarized in a few words: the industrial farming system needs to be radically transformed into diversified agro-ecological systems made up of small agricultural structures that cultivate reasoned agriculture, who avoid chemical inputs and value synergies and short circuits. Hence, it would be possible to both end world hunger and practice ecological, resilient, and sustainable agriculture.

The consequences of intensive industrial agriculture

conventional agriculture or agroecology

The report first analyzes the positive and negative impacts of the agro-industrial system currently prevailing in the world. This system, consisting of large, intensive, agricultural structures based on the industrial model, has succeeded, since the 1950s, in exploding agricultural yields and thus massively feeding the supply chains of international markets with large volumes of food. However, the study notes that this high productivity and these high yields have been at the cost of many negative consequences, notably from the environmental point of view: general soil degradation, water and ecosystem pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, losses of biodiversity.

Another observation is that, although the food system produced in the world has increased considerably, the current agro-industrial system has not permitted an efficient distribution of these food volumes. While on the one hand, there are still close to one billion people suffering from hunger and undernutrition, and even more suffering from malnutrition and food deficiencies. On the other hand, the inhabitants of developed countries and large megalopolises have seen their health conditions deteriorate with the rapid increase in obesity and nutritional diseases (especially diabetes). And all the while, nearly 40% of the food produced in the world is wasted.

In addition to these worrying findings, IPES Food recalls that the current global agricultural system creates extremely difficult living and working conditions for agricultural workers and farmers, subject to the vagaries of international markets.

According to IPES and the various studies analyzed, these problems are specifically linked to the industrial and intensive nature of modern agriculture. The use of high-yielding monocultures and pesticides has destroyed the organic quality of soil and, over the last fifteen years, agricultural yields have been declining globally. It is the intensive use of pesticides and chemical inputs that results in pollution, loss of biodiversity, and the development of resistant species, and that degrades the health of farmers and consumers. It is also intensive industrial farming and productionist animal feeding choices that result in massive greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector.

Alternatives to industrial agriculture: diversified agro-ecology

agroecology organic local distribution channel

To get out of this vicious circle of industrial agriculture, the authors of the report advocate a transition to a more decentralized, more diversified system based on the principles of agro-ecology. In short, it is a system between subsistence agriculture and intensive agriculture, which takes the best of both worlds. The model they propose is to reduce the ecological footprint of agriculture, improve its resilience and long-term yields, and better allocate agricultural production gains is based on the following principles:

  • Temporal and spatial diversification of crops (crop rotation, multi-species crops, permaculture principles).
  • Diversification of cultivated species (abandonment of monoculture, use of locally adapted species, old species, and/or integration with the existing ecosystem).
  • Development of integrated production ecosystems based on natural synergies (developing farms combining crops, livestock, agroforestry, and organic farming so that each agricultural facet can enrich others).
  • Return to an agricultural system based on human work and less on machinery and mechanization (in order to revalue agricultural work and employment).
  • Application of the circular economy within agricultural systems (use of natural fertilizers derived from livestock farming, for example, instead of chemical inputs).
  • Promotion of short production lines (the agricultural system must provide local markets with less homogeneous and more diversified products).

The report highlights that such a system reduces the environmental impacts of agriculture, improves the nutritional quality of food, preserves and develops local ecosystems and general biodiversity, as well as improves the quality of life of agricultural workers, local employment, and densifies the local economic circuits.

And above all, the advantage of this type of farming system is that it would make preserving soil quality possible, as it has been largely degraded by industrial agriculture. In the long term, this would lead to higher agricultural yields than conventional industrial farming. Thanks to smaller and less intensive farms, we could produce better, locally, and ecologically. Almost all the problems related to the agricultural crisis could be solved through a transition to more diversified, more local agricultural ecosystems using less chemical inputs: world hunger, nutritional diseases such as obesity, and even the quality of life of agricultural workers.

Why hasn’t the current agricultural system evolved?

In spite of this, IPES Food notes that several factors prevent the agricultural system from evolving and emerging from its current dynamic: consumers want inexpensive food that is accessible year-round without source restrictions. So, actors reason in the short-term, rather than in terms of resilience and long-term sustainability. An entire economic chain has structured around this system and it is difficult to get out without making a generalized transition…

Above all, the study shows that the current agricultural system benefits very largely from certain actors in the “agro-business” (manufacturers of pesticides and chemical inputs, R&D industrialists in animal genetics, multinationals in international commerce and mass retail). These actors therefore mobilize their common interests to maintain this system, despite the deleterious effects it has on the general population and the environment. For example, IPES Food explains that each year, the big agribusiness and mass distribution companies spend more than 130 million dollars in lobbying members of the US Congress (three times the amount of lobbying for trade union protection at the same Congress).

In this context, it is difficult to imagine that public policies an adapt and emerge from the paradigm of industrial agriculture…

combine harvester- fieldsHow do we transition to a more sustainable agricultural model?

Despite these obstacles, the study proposes solutions to begin a transition to a more diversified and agro-ecological agriculture. This is particularly the case for public policy, which IPES Food believes must overcome conflicts of interest with the agro-industrial sector and propose new directions. Among the proposals:

  • Move public subsidies from industrial agriculture to agro-ecological, biological, and diversified agriculture.
  • Create a form of stakeholder dialogue around local agricultural and food systems, made up of politicians, scientists, and civil society representatives who embody the health, local development, or the environment fields in order to democratically create adapted agricultural and food policies.
  • Integrate territorial management of agricultural systems, i.e., to think about the possible interactions between the different agricultural and food actors within a given territory (such as a region). Manage agricultural problems at the territorial level, local synergies between producers, consumers, and distributors can be better exploited and global management of the agricultural landscape can be put in place.
  • Put agro-ecological practices at the center of agricultural strategies, agricultural research, and training and education programs.
  • Promote organic farming, ancient and indigenous seeds, short circuits (i.e. by making local and organic compulsory in schools and public institutions) through public policies.

Nevertheless, in order for such strategies to be implemented, the way in which the agricultural world should be analyzed need to change. For example, new ways of measuring agricultural yields need to be adopted. If we measure the yields of an agricultural system solely on the basis of its annual production, short term industrial agriculture seems to be a viable option. On the other hand, if yields are considered to preserve soil quality and biodiversity, the nutritional and health impact of agricultural practices, and pollution, agro-ecology seems to be the most efficient option. It is then necessary to learn to think about the agricultural world in a synthetic and global way, taking into account all the indicators.

This change of approach is beginning to emerge in certain circles, which advocate local agriculture, adapted to the land and the territory, an agriculture that uses the least chemical inputs and produces healthier and better tasting food. Nevertheless, the road will be long and difficult before awareness spreads to all the actors of the agricultural world.

 

The IPES Food recommendations, based on exhaustive reviews of all the reference studies on the subject, are clear: the agricultural crisis can only be solved by widely changing the model!

Crédits image : Alf Ribeiro / Shutterstock.com

Cet article Agri-Ecological Small Farms: The Solution to World Hunger and Sustainable Food? est apparu en premier sur CSR and Sustainability within companies and nonprofits : e-CSR.net.

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