We are living unstable times under permanent change where everything seems to be disposable and instantaneous. We are living fast, avoiding the obligations of what’s permanent. This last, that we can observe in severe spheres of our lives, is very easily recognized in our daily consumes that conform our life styles and influence human behavior.
Products we buy tend to be for its immediate consumption, only a few of them are for long-term use and, what’s more, new and better versions constantly burst out. Companies offer us a large amount of products to be used and wasted, resulting in severe damages for our environment. This last has generated critics from movements and institutions that defend the environment, mostly on what refers to the responsibility of those who provide us with products, its inputs, raw materials, processes, etc. This last explains why, in the core of companies, people have started to think what RSE implies. But now; what does it mean to be a responsible company?
In these last years, consumers have started to get used to having some signs and detailed descriptions in the cover of products where we are told that it’s biological, ecological, eco-friendly and/or made with recycled materials. This last is part of the new strategies from RSE. This implies that companies who offer those goods have started some kind of change (either profound or superficial) in their environmental policies.
According to the International Labour Organization, RSE is the reflex of the way companies think and consider the repercussions of their activities over society and where they affirm the principles and values that rule their own methods, internal processes and their relationship with other members.
RSE is a volunteer initiative that only depends on the company and refers to the activities that are considered to go beyond the simple law performance. RSE is a specific responsibility way that some companies have chosen to deal with the challenge proposed by the ecology. These organizations tend to have a direct contact with their customers and clients, becoming more “permeable” towards the demand of society. This way, companies bring up changes in the way they produce and/or direct money injections to finance eco-friendly programs.
I can provide two reasons (that are sometimes separately, some others together) that propel the development of RSE programs:
- Firstly, the good will of some entrepreneurs as conscious individuals regards environmental problems.
- Secondly, the use of these programs as part of the organization’s marketing. Informed consumers are now requiring green products and the company has to satisfy this demand of the actual and future market. In many opportunities, companies use this strategy as a way of adding specific value to their products that diference them from their competence. That way, companies have to spread their campaigns to have an increase in sales. A good example of this are the supermarkets that promove the use of recyclable bags with biodegradable materials and sell them in their stores.
On the other hand, some companies decide not to care about the RSE. They deny the environmental impact of their activities and accuse politicians and environmentalists to be conspiring against te free market promoting restrictions and regulation that block the company’s activities. An example of this is the oil companies that t have acted a as an important lobby against the theory of climate change. They continue with their activities because they consider that if they stop doing what they do, there will be always another agent ready to take that economic opportunity.
Now I ask you: Which are the consequences of being a RSE in the business world? The human and environmental systems are synergic, so the accumulation of good and bad practices generate effects that exceeds the sum of the individual acts. How to find the balance between the real needs and the future generation’s rights?