On Corporate Disposals

Jibreel Sarayi Written by Jibreel Sarayi · 1 min read >

Corporate organisations have principles regarding disposal of unused properties or properties that are no more useful. For many organisations, we see different points of views which build up a lot of conversation around disposal culture. For example, many supermarkets dispose of shelf items that will soon expire in different ways. Some share them amongst staff and the needy, while the majority dump them in a dumpsite. A lot of criticisms are channelled to those that use dumpsites. This article uses HSBC as a case study and how it handled its disposal of unused furniture in 2003.

  • What did HSBC do and why?

HSBC, through Green-Works, gave out more than 3000 metric tons of office furniture to schools, hospitals and non-governmental organisations in Gambia. As against dumping the furniture into a landfill, a decision that would have been easier and cost effective, they chose to be charitable. This is because of the company’s values and principles on environmental management and social responsibility. 

The company recognises investing in people as a key element of achieving brand growth. 

  • What challenges did they encounter?

The company faced a number of challenges. Some are:

– The trade union’s outrage at the company for deciding to shift 4000 jobs to less developed nations. 

– Friends of the Earth (FOE), an environmental organisation claimed in 2004, that HSBC funded companies that were responsible for deforestation and destruction of rainforest in Indonesia, and companies linked to human rights violations in Sudan. 

– There were links to Three Gorges Dam in China. The Chinese Development bank hired a few major investment banks, including HSBC to raise 500 million. Many environmentalists believed that the majority of the funds would go towards schemes to divert rivers and build dams in China.

  • How did they live the three Ps of CSR?

HSBC believes that investing their resources of time, energy and money in CSR initiatives and people would translate into a successful brand image for them and act as a driver for long-term sustainable earnings growth. For people, the bank supported a large number of local community projects. It also actively encouraged its employees to be involved in volunteering for local community projects and giving part of their salaries to charity. 

For the planet, the company took steps in making an impact on the environment. Since publishing its first environmental policy in 1997, they have made efforts to optimise energy use and water consumption, control gas emissions and waste at its locations globally. It also implemented a carbon management plan which comprised efficiency improvement measures, trading emission credits and tree planting around the world to balance out its carbon emissions.

As a profitable company, HSBC is a world leading brand ranked 33rd and valued at $8.67bn in 2004. It was awarded Best Bank and Global Bank of the Year by Euromoney magazine and the Banker magazine respectively in 2004. 

Conclusively, we see that HSBC decided to give out the unused furniture through charity to those that actually need them. This adherence to core values of the company is laudable and definitely had an effect on its staff and their customers. Regardless, they still faced business and media challenges for this gesture and the pre-occurring event.


Ibukun Adenuga in General
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