Company’s social responsibility tends to sound like when the company has too much money and time on its hands. Or something assigned from a faraway high corporate headquarters that reasonable companies would not deal with unless told to do so.
In reality, company social responsibility is, leaving this grandiose term aside, a normal way of operating as a company and the meaningful activities performed by them. Some examples from Omniva’s activities that have worked well and some that have been lessons.
- Act responsibly in your own main area of activity
The major expense and a significant ecological footprint of Omniva as a logistics company is transport. Our vehicles take 314 trips around the Earth in a year and this number is growing with the increasing e-commerce volume. Transport involves major costs, so it makes sense that we try to save here. And if you decide to save, you should also save the environment. We try to make sure that our vehicle fleet would not be older than three years (because newer vehicles are more environmentally friendly), we have an eco-driving programme (which also helps with safe driving and reduces the number of accidents involving our employees).
We are also looking towards the future by testing different electric vehicles to find the optimum transport means suitable for Estonian climate and parcel delivery. All this is with an aim of reducing the ecological footprint and also to save on cost.
2. Educate the community, employees and clients
The dark side of e-commerce is packaging and the resulting amount of waste. Often the materials used – bubble wrap, cellular plastic, etc.– are also bad for the environment. Thus, we continue educating our clients on economic and smart packaging. We also support reusable packaging initiatives (such as Woola that makes packaging out of leftover wool).
There are other options out there. For example, the aforementioned eco-driving – why not share expert advice about what could be adopted without actually owning the technical equipment to monitor the driving style. Or transfer to machine readable e-invoices (in addition to physical logistics, Omniva group also operates in information logistics and is an e-invoice operator), which help companies save accountants’ time and accelerate invoice exchange. There are plenty of areas in all businesses, you just need to keep your mind and eyes open.
3. Cooperation with community, in our area of activity
There are many interesting and important initiatives in the world that make it a better place. It is wise to select those that are linked with the company’s area of activity. This is your area of expertise and where you can contribute the most to the initiative.
Together with the “Let’s do it” communities activities day, Omniva started the mailbox initiative. Mailboxes are an important part of public space – ugly and damaged mailboxes at the side of the road are eye-catching and they also fail to ensure the safety of mail, in addition, they make the mailman’s work uncomfortable and time-consuming. Omniva provided free group mailboxes and called communities to make beautiful stands in local parish colours for these.
Instead of the Christmas-time charity campaign, Omniva called people to send old toys they no longer played with to new homes after Christmas (as kids receive lots of new toys during Christmas). It was possible to send the extra toys for free using the Omniva parcel machine and Omniva delivered these to charity organisations that found new homes for the toys. This way, many toys have found happy new owners for several years already.
4. Code responsibility into all innovations
It is easier to do a new thing correctly from the beginning than to redo an already existing thing. Thus, it is worth taking a closer look at all new initiatives.
When planning the new logistics centre, Omniva did not simply build a house, but a facility that would be beneficial to the employees and environment. Among other things, we immediately turned to energy from renewable sources and as a result, the majority of our logistics centre power needs are covered by one of the largest solar parks in Estonia located on the building’s roof. 1667 solar panels produce power for us, and according to estimations, will pay off in 7 years.
5. Be a role model and invite people along
On World Cleanup Day, Omniva began making the world a cleaner place around our own home, by cleaning the road sides around the new logistics centre and the area around the three thousand year old sacrificial stone that is also located on our property.
And not just that! We also contributed to previous calls, using newsletters and social media to call our clients, partners and our channel followers to participate in the World Cleanup Day. We added a footer to all e-mails going out from our company that said “We are going to clean. Join us!”
While campaigns and social initiatives of companies are usually rather quietly noted, the World Cleanup Day call received lots of direct positive feedback from several business clients: Omniva was recognised for being a role model for participating and many said it was very motivating.
6. Move on step by step
Each company is unique, and what to do and in which order depends on the organisational culture and company DNA. And it is advisable to start moving towards the desired goals by taking one step at a time.
Thinking about the practice of some companies where employees are given paid days off to volunteer, we at Omniva started inquiring about what our people are already doing. And we uncovered some incredible stories. A letter carrier who is a support person and foster mother to three kids. A domain head who, out of love for their home region and basketball, leads the street basketball tournament that has grown nationwide. A local distribution centre collects money for the region’s orphanage and another one pays the medical bills of a cat that came to them looking for shelter. And others. And others. And others. People do all this during their own free time and with their own finances.
Such dedication gives the company courage as an employer to start moving towards giving a day off for volunteering in the future. But we also realised that talking about charity and volunteering is only just starting at the organisation and for complete success the idea of a day off needs more preliminary work.
7. Start now
Too often companies get tangled up in wanting to do things perfectly and in whole. Indeed, it is the correct direction, but it is okay to reach the whole in parts. Instead of racking your brain with developing a social responsibility strategy and an integrated programme, start taking the first steps now. You will also get immediate feedback on how the specific idea/format/activity fits your company, and the best practices will become the social responsibility action plan and strategy that’s perfect for your company.