Money Does Grow (on) Trees?

Taiwo Williams Written by Taiwo Williams · 2 min read >

Every individual and organisation has a responsibility, no matter how little, to the sustainability of the society they exist in. As much as we are usually tempted to see these CSR initiatives of big organisations as PR propaganda, they still undoubtedly do some good. One of these companies is HSBC. The British multinational banking and investment powerhouse showed (through their CSR initiatives) that environmental impact and profitability are certainly not mutually exclusive.

To begin with, the excerpt “Morality is as important as earnings growth”, resonates with me because it informs me that they are an organization that operates with a moral compass and will at least weigh deeply the impacts of their actions beyond financial ramifications and into humanity. This is depicted in their decision to redistribute their office furniture at a costlier price than simply disposing of them at a landfill. This endeavour created numerous employments and catered to the needs of organizations locally and internationally.

For a company whose expansion model has been to strategically acquire other companies, HSBC has shown dedication to generosity. This is as much an internal endeavour as it is an external one. The Group Head, in 2003, states that the company is committed to satisfying the interests of all their stakeholders.  Their CSR initiative was not only a brand management and financially motivated decision but also an emphasis on cultural rejuvenation. By way of the Group Standards Manual, these principles of responsibility and accountability were sewn into the fabric of their corporate governance structure. It is no surprise that the employees were encouraged to donate some of their salaries to charitable causes.

They also ensured that this cultural drive made its way into the relationships they had with their investor communities by educating them on socially responsible practices. I was impressed to know that they even collaborated with some of their investors on CSR related issues.

Furthermore, HSBC showed that engaging in environmentally sustainable practices do not always have to be at the detriment of your bottom-line. By reducing consumption of 52 tons of paper and offering online statement to their customers, they were able to save $1.1million annually. It was impactful to note that it is not always a zero-sum game.

 Lastly, I admired HSBC’s response to allegations of aiding environmentally harmful initiatives. In 2004, through the release of its guidelines for the bank’s involvement in the forestry sector, HSBC asserted itself as an environmentally progressive organization. This also sent a strong message to companies in other sectors that the bank will be wary of engaging in relationships that adversely affect the environment.

How can we contribute?

  • Even though much of the conversation these days make recommendations to big-time players, like states and highly influential individuals, I have recognized few actions that we can take to further this agenda.
  • For starters, we should stop ignoring the reality of the sensitive time that we are in as elements of nature. It is easy to be confounded to the politicization of the issue but in this case, ignorance of the facts is not an excuse.
  • More so, we can think globally and in a “planetary scale” when going about our daily routine. We can effectively recycle in Nigeria.
  • We should attach more seriousness to planting fruits and vegetables in our homes and immediate surroundings.
  • Instead of simply disposing of unused items, we should continue to donate them to the needy.
  • When we can, we should walk rather than use vehicles.

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